Pick up that book, turn those pages

Pick up that book, turn those pages

OK, OK, I know that many of you no longer actually pick up a book, open the covers, and turn the pages. I am familiar with Kindle, iPads, various other readers on the market, and my computer, but for me, although I have several devices, I still prefer the bound book. It doesn’t have to be a hardback or library edition. A good paperback will suffice, and a loaned or gifted copy is great, too. In fact, I have been thinking of ways to get our readers to share books they’ve already read with others.

There’s just something about keeping it real for me in the old paper and ink versions of new stories. I have traveled to many places, met wonderful folks, and learned so much down through the years by way of reading. It comforts me and often gives me answers to questions I am asking.

Thank you to those who have taken the time to write me a quick note about what you are enjoying reading. I have been rather amazed at how different the selections have been, with only two books thus far read by two or more people. Keep those short reviews coming and we will get some of them into print in the next few weeks.

In this column, I am featuring the first book I read written by Susan Gabriel, an acclaimed writer who lives in the mountains of beautiful North Carolina. If you enjoyed reading “The Help” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you will enjoy Gabriel’s characters, the story line, location for her settings, in this case the Georgia, and North and South Carolina Low Country, from which she draws her inspiration and characters. I predict you will find yourself laughing out loud as you read. While reading “Temple Secrets” about a very wealthy and heralded Savannah family, I found myself wondering if I had awakened others in the home in which I was staying with my continual giggling and outright laughing.

We all know every family has secrets, but the aristocratic Temples have more than their share. For the matriarch to maintain her esteemed position in Savannah society, she must control the ledger documenting the indiscretions of other prestigious southern families dating as far back as the Civil War. A mysterious person begins to deliver these secrets one by one to the leading newspaper in Savannah, and the old historic town is rocked to the core.

Iris Temple, a very unlikeable socialite, has secrets of her own, known well by her half sister, Queenie (think of the cast in “The Help”) and members of the staff in the big mansion they call home. One thing about Iris that is not a secret is her constant and unpredictable gastrointestinal illnesses sending people with weak constitutions fleeing from the room or hall. God forbid that one would be stuck in a vehicle with Iris and her barrage of flatulence. Believe me, you’ll be laughing even if you plan not to do so.

At the heart of the story is Old Sally, Queenie’s mother, an expert in Gullah folk magic, cures for all ailments, and rich wisdom. Iris swears Old Sally has put a voodoo curse on her, causing her maladies. At the ripe age of 100 years old, Old Sally keeps warch on all of the affairs of the Temples and their secrets.

This is the kind of book that you feel a sadness sweeping over you when you realize that you are at the end and the last page is soon to be turned. And you hope this author will take pen in hand and write more about the Temples and their heirs.

“Temple Secrets” was published in 2015 by Wild Lily Arts and printed in the United States of America. On a scale of one to five glasses, I give “Temple Secrets” a hearty 4-plus.


Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.