By D. Lanier Shook July 20, 2013
Before you pick up Chimes From a Cracked Southern Belle, you need to realize you won’t want to put it down. Susan Reinhardt’s debut novel is the kind of book that will pin you to your chair. You’ll find yourself turning the pages, alternately laughing and crying with Prudy “Dee” Millings, the main character and narrator of the novel.
Prudy has been given a second chance after her world was shattered — literally — by an abusive husband. Still in the land of the living, she is determined to make a new life for her two children. Susan Reinhardt has so skillfully interwoven this overriding theme with humor and romance that you’ll only realize how serious the story is after you’ve read it.
The humor isn’t artificial or overwhelming, but the genuine kind you meet in everyday life. For example, when Prudy decides to buy her kids a pool the experience becomes very, very stressful. Our heroine handles it with a wry humor that acknowledges the stress, but also realizes there are parts of it you could laugh at — later.
While Susan Reinhardt’s two secondary characters — Prudy’s mother and aunt — provide comic relief but they also serve a deeper function, representing the two sides of Prudy’s psyche. But as you read the book you won’t be thinking of them as “two sides of Prudy’s psyche.” Instead you’ll be recognizing people you know, maybe even members of your own family.
There is romance, but it comes later in the book and that’s important because Prudy’s journey is not a search for a man who will solve all her problems. It’s a journey of self-discovery where she works through the baggage that accumulates during life. We all have that baggage and maybe that’s why the book is such a page-turner.
Susan Reinhardt hasn’t just written a story about a single mother determined to build a new life. In many ways she’s written our story, the story that every one of us could tell. We’ve all been through tough times — hopefully not as tough as Prudy’s — and we’re all trying to struggle back to some sense of normality.
If you’ve read Susan Reinhardt’s work in the Citizen Times then you’ll recognize the same tone and honest-yet-humorous assessment of life. Chimes From a Cracked Southern Belle is where she applies her wisdom in a narrative. You’ll read it, put it down, and then realize that she’s actually been teaching you how to survive life and what it throws at you. Here’s a big congratulations to Susan on her first novel and hopes that she’s somehow finding time to work on her next one.
You can click here to visit Amazon.com and read some of it for free. I’d also encourage you to click here and visit Susan Reinhardt’s webpage where you can find out about her other books and click here to check out the Grateful Steps Foundation, the wonderful people who published Susan’s book along with other wonderful books.
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