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Publisher's Summary

“This terrific debut lifts the veil on the charming old city of Charleston and a prominent Lowcountry family to deliver an entertaining story about becoming yourself without totally rejecting your past. Plus: debutante balls! I love this novel.” (Lauren Weisberger, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Devil Wears Prada and When Life Gives You Lululemons)

A captivating debut novel that looks inside the private lives of Charleston aristocracy, where a former debutante learns that sometimes good behavior leads to bad decisions.

Tourists think they see the real Charleston, but Simons Smythe knows there’s more to her hometown than sweet tea and Southern hospitality. Behind the walled gardens, inside the fabled historic homes, live Charleston’s elite. Simons was born into this powerful aristocracy that has quietly ruled the city for centuries.

Simons’ family has a banner year ahead; her older sister will give birth to her second child, and her younger sister will make her debut - a series of cocktail parties and balls to introduce her to society. And in one year, Simons plans to marry Trip. She hopes that’s enough time to fall back in love.

Simons produces the news at a local TV station, a job that increasingly tests her loyalty to her family and friends. On her days off, Simons surfs the waves of Folly Beach, crabs the salty rivers of Edisto Island, and follows her wayward heart to King Street bars. The one touchstone in this confusing time is her elegant and secretive grandmother, Laudie, who - repeatedly and mysteriously - urges Simons to “be brave”.

In this sparkling novel, Simons unlocks riddles from the past, flirts with a new future, and discovers that some rules are made to be broken.

©2021 Gervais Hagerty (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

I wanted to like it, but couldn’t. For starters, the narrator mispronounced so many of the names and places in Charleston. Having lived in Charleston for several years, I found this frustrating. Also, if I wanted to read about how horrible evil all white males are, I’d have stuck to social media. It’s actually possible to be for women’s independence without being full of hatred for males.

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn’t get through the first chapter…

Too much negativity and pandering. If you don’t like Charleston and it’s people — leave. Why trash them in a book? Returning this title while I can.

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loved this story!!

beautifully written. great messages. great story. the narrator marred some of the local names though.

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predictable

good story but pretty predictable. no real surprises at all. loved the narration though

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An abrupt ending

I would have given the story four stars except I was really shocked when the story suddenly ended at a pretty random part of the story. I feel Ike there should be at least four more chapters. It’s as if the writer said to the reader, “Here, I’m tired of writing, you make up the rest of the story!”

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Could’ve Been Better

Charleston is my most favorite place in the world and I’m so fortunate to live only 200 miles away. For that reason, I really wanted to love this book. There were several reasons I didn’t, however. For one, the writing was lackluster as was the plot. It took me about five seconds to figure out what the mysterious letter that Simons’s grandmother spoke of before her death was about. And, here’s a tip when choosing a narrator: Make sure she knows how to pronounce words and names pertaining to the subject of the book. There were so many mispronunciations and incorrect facts, it’s a wonder my eyes aren’t permanently rolled back in my head. Here’s an example: Waffle House does not serve pancakes.
I will give Ms. Hagerty props for her stance against all the overdevelopment of the peninsula. I see it every time I go to Charleston. One example is the condo sitting about ten feet from the exit ramp off I-26 onto Meeting St. Another is the many cranes that dot the sky all over Charleston. She’s right, my beloved Charleston is headed for disaster. For that reason, I can’t hate on this book too much.

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Very well done :)

I was quickly drawn into this book. The writing is excellent & the story of a young woman find her purpose & strength is inspiring!

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Beautifully written and performed

A very truthful novel About the South, coming of age and age old traditions in a modern world. Loved the tone and inflection of the reader. She truly brought this book to life. Made me want to visit South Carolina.