Lisa Wingate was a new author discovery for me last year. I posted already on the very first novella in this Carolina Heirlooms Series, as well as another stand-alone novel called Before We Were Yours.
Wingate’s books, (and she has many besides this series), are easy-to-read contemporary women’s fiction with a historical fiction element. I like the pacing and the characters in her books, even though the endings are usually predictable and the novels a bit forgettable. She obviously does her research well and comes up with some interesting storylines, settings, and historical truth. This series takes place mostly in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Outer Banks, a thin circle of islands and sand dunes extending in an arc out from the US east coast. Before this series I never knew the Outer Banks existed. I also learned about the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the Federal Writer’s Project.
The Carolina Heirlooms Collection is comprised of 3 novels with 3 novellas as prequel and interspersed between the main books. I read them in order, but I don’t think that was entirely necessary. There are characters that keep reappearing but there is not really an important chronology. Here is the list:
#.5 The Sea Glass Sisters
#1.0 The Prayer Box
# 1.5 The Tidewater Sisters
#2.0 The Story Keeper
#2.5 The Sandcastle Sister
#3.0 The Sea Keeper’s Daughters
Memphis, Tennessee, 1936. The five Foss children find their lives changed forever when their parents leave them alone on the family shantyboat one stormy night. Rill Foss, just twelve years old, must protect her four younger siblings as they are wrenched from their home on the Mississippi and thrown into the care of the infamous Georgia Tann, director of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
South Carolina, Present Day. Avery Stafford has lived a charmed life. Loving daughter to her father, a U.S. Senator, she has a promising career as an assistant D.A. in Baltimore and is engaged to her best friend. But when Avery comes home to help her father weather a health crisis and a political attack, a chance encounter with a stranger leaves her deeply shaken. Avery’s decision to learn more about the woman’s life will take her on a journey through her family’s long-hidden history.
Two stories of very different families, generations apart, alternate in this poignant story of love and loss that highlights an unthinkable chapter in US history. The Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home basically stole children from poor families, and sold them to families of privilege. Wingate’s historical fiction is hopeful and sincere. The dedication to the book says it all:
“For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn’t. May your stories not be forgotten. For those who help today’s orphans find forever homes. May you always know the value of your work and your love.”