A Light on the Veranda by Ciji Ware
ARC, Paperback, 480 pages
March 1, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Historical
Source: Received for review from the Publisher
“A ‘stand-alone’ sequel to Midnight on Julia Street, this novel tells the story of Daphne Duvallon, a wayward southern belle and Juilliard-trained harpist, who returns to Natchez, Mississippi from New York’s cut-throat classical music world, weary from professional battles and personal despair. Still wounded from the uproar that ricocheted through her family when she ditched Jack Ebert, her philandering groom, literally at the altar, she has an unexpected rendezvous with her future when she meets Simon Hopkins, a nationally-renown nature photographer with a dark secret of his own. Reinventing her life as a jazz musician while sorting through a series of bizarre collisions with her nineteenth century ancestors—and Simon’s as well—Daphne begins to get the feeling that she might well be better off making her way as a second-rate musician at society weddings than as a wildly successful woman band leader whose past is deeply rooted in the ‘Land that Time Forgot.’”I can’t say that I have read a novel set in the Deep South, but the “Land that Time Forgot” was a wonderful setting for A Light on the Veranda! Ciji Ware creates the entire experience for you from the food, to the gorgeous old mansions, to the music – and oh what wonderful music! I love music and the jazz that Ware features in this novel makes you just want to run out and attend a jazz concert – certainly one like the Aphrodites! She really makes you feel like you have been there yourself.
This was also my first experience with a “time slip” novel. While most of the story takes place in a contemporary setting, fragments of the novel are set in the 1800’s. With these segments we learn about the life of some of the family members of Daphne, and Sim, Jack, and others from around the Natchez area. These time slips fit perfectly into the story and helped move the plot along and provide Daphne with some interesting references regarding experiences she was going through at the time. They never felt jarring or out of place – I just wanted more of them! Through these time slips we get a sense of 19th century plantation life.
For the most part I enjoyed the characters. Jack is quite is evil villain – I would really not want to get on his bad side, let me tell you! Sim is a sweet guy with a lot of baggage but someone you can really get behind and root for. Daphne got on my nerves from time to time with her constant flip flopping and relationship woes – but based on some of her experiences it does make sense.
I didn’t realize that this was a sequel of any kind to Midnight on Julia Street, having not yet read that novel. I do believe the blurb that says this works as a standalone because I did not feel the least confused about the plot points or backstory.
I also have to give kudos to Ware on her inclusion of safe sex. Reading primarily historical novels I don’t usually encounter this issue, however contemporary novels don’t typically address the issue either. It almost felt a little shocking to me to actually see the issue raised in the book, but then I felt “way to go!”.
Ciji Ware has written several fiction novels including: A Race to Splendor (link goes to my previous review), Wicked Company, A Cottage By the Sea, Island of the Swans, and Midnight on Julia Street. You can visit Ware’s website or blog for additional information about the books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
3.5/4 out of 5 stars.
Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court