I love debut fiction, because I really get the author’s passion for the story and the craft of writing while reading the book (most of the time, at least). Debut authors often have nothing to lose, and they have everything to gain, so they put everything into this book. And I definitely saw this passion in Margaret Bradham Thornton’s debut novel, Charleston.
Charleston is a unique city, because it has maintained an air of European charm despite being firmly established in North Carolina. Eliza Poinsett left Charleston to go to college and continued in her career as an art historian living in London. She’s got a good life–a job she enjoys and a great Etonian boyfriend. Then, at a wedding in the English countryside, she runs into an old love of hers (from back in Charleston), and all of a sudden, her past is back in her life.
In one sense, Charleston debates that “go home to what you know or forge your own path” question so many millennials face as they come into adulthood. Eliza goes back to Charleston for her sister’s debut into society, and realizes that moving back full-time is an option she hadn’t really considered before. She has to make a decision, try to “make it” in her hometown, or go back to the life she has built in London.
The main plot is certainly developed–Eliza meets Henry at a wedding, and runs into him again at her sister’s debut, love story, there you go. But I also really got into some of the sub-plots, and I would have liked to see them a little further developed, and a little more prominent in the story as a whole. Eliza is a career woman, but the options to be an art historian in Charleston are pretty minimal. She does, however, get wrapped up in an identification project with a piece of art another woman in town owns. I was hoping that arc would come more to the forefront, and the mystery behind this artwork would lead to more suspense regarding the art, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
All in all, Charleston is a decent debut. Is it mind-blowing? No, at least, not for me. But it was interesting enough to keep reading until the end, and it offers Thornton a good platform to work from any future books she plans on writing.
Check out Charleston and give it a read.
Guest book review contributed by Blondie Marie. This blogger features a paperback book review on Tuesdays, an indie review on Wednesdays, a hardcover book on Fridays, and a wine critique on Saturdays.
Would you like two free audio books? Begin your 30-day free trial at Audible.com and receive two free audio books and 30% off additional audiobook purchases. You keep your two free books even if you later cancel.