A Southern Girl: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Set against the exquisite, historical backdrop of Charleston's insular South of Broad neighborhood, A Southern Girl is a tale of international adoption and of families lost, then found anew through revelations, courage, and the perseverance of a love without bounds. With two biological sons and a promising career, Coleman Carter seems set to fulfill his promise as a resourceful trial lawyer, devoted husband, and dutiful father until his wife, Elizabeth, champions their adoption of a Korean orphan. This seemingly ...

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A Southern Girl: A Novel

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Overview

Set against the exquisite, historical backdrop of Charleston's insular South of Broad neighborhood, A Southern Girl is a tale of international adoption and of families lost, then found anew through revelations, courage, and the perseverance of a love without bounds. With two biological sons and a promising career, Coleman Carter seems set to fulfill his promise as a resourceful trial lawyer, devoted husband, and dutiful father until his wife, Elizabeth, champions their adoption of a Korean orphan. This seemingly altruistic mission estranges Coleman's conservative parents and demands that he now embrace the unknown as fully as he has always entrenched himself in the familiar.

Elizabeth, a self-proclaimed liberal with a global sense of duty, is eager for the adoption, while Coleman, a scion of the Old South, is at best a reluctant participant. But the arrival of Soo Yun (later called Allie) into the Carter household and the challenging reactions of Coleman's peers and parents awakens in him a broadening sense of responsibility and dedication to his new family that opens his eyes to the subtle racism and exclusionary activities that had dominated his sheltered life. To garner Allie's entrance into Charleston society, Coleman must come to terms with his past and guide Allie toward finding her own origins as the Carters forge a new family identity and confront generations-old fears inherent in Southern traditions of purity and prestige.

Deftly told through the distinctive voices of Allie's birth mother, her orphanage nurse, her adoptive mother Elizabeth, and finally Coleman himself, A Southern Girl brings us deeply into Allie's plights--first for her very survival and then for her sense of identity, belonging, and love in her new and not always welcoming culture. In this truly international tale, John Warley guides us through the enclaves of southern privilege in New Hampton, Virginia, and Charleston, the poverty-stricken back alleys of Seoul, South Korea, the jungles of Vietnam, and the stone sidewalks of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as the bonds between father and daughter become strong enough to confront the trials of their pasts and present alike.

The first release from Pat Conroy's Story River Books, A Southern Girl includes a foreword by New York Times bestselling novelist Therese Ann Fowler.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Nobody does family pride like a Southerner. But in his balletic, big-hearted new novel, John Warley cajoles and challenges the limits of that pride. Here, it's the beaming, fatherly love awakened by an adopted child that's cause for celebration, rather than one's ancestral silver or membership in the St. Cecilia Society. While reading A Southern Girl--a rebel yell for the traditional, non-traditional family--I was wondrously reminded of theologian Stanley Hauerwas's great line: 'If you want to welcome the stranger, have a child.' No kidding."--Robert Leleux, author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy and The Living End

"With both skill and passion, John Warley carries the reader through generations and countries. Following plot twists and heart-turns, we become a member of many families, loving and loathing as we do in any real family. A Southern Girl is rich with trustworthy and vulnerable narrators who allow us the privilege of entering the secret traditions and lore-soaked South as well as the clandestine corners of the character's souls. This is a gorgeous, heartfelt book from a masterful storyteller; I didn't want to miss a word of Warley's whispered secrets."--Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of And Then I Found You, Coming Up for Air, and others

"Forget what you know about the South. John Warley serves up a unique perspective and challenges perceptions of the southern belle. A powerhouse of emotion, A Southern Girl explores the depths of parental love and the lengths to which it will go. Warley's words are fresh and urgent and beg you to keep reading."--Nicole Seitz, author of A Hundred Years of Happiness and Beyond Molasses Creek

"John Warley's novel A Southern Girl takes us on a fascinating and powerful emotional journey that proves itself to be a richly rewarding story of life and family. It's simply unforgettable. Congratulations, Mr. Warley!"--Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author of ten novels

"A Southern Girl is a heart-wrenching story of personal struggles when a traditional southern family adopts a foreign child. John Warley masterfully chronicles the prejudice, family dramas, and the secret behind-the-smiles politics of an exclusive Charleston society. Asia meets Charleston offers irresistible appeal, like watching a cherry tree and magnolia bloom together outside your window. For serious fans of southern fiction, this is a must-read!"--Mary Alice Monroe

"John Warley's A Southern Girl is a stunning achievement: a beautifully written and heartfelt account of a father's love for an adopted daughter, and his struggles in helping her find her own identify in an elite yet conflicted society. Based on the author's own experiences, this triumphant story belongs to anyone who has ever loved, grieved, questioned, rejoiced, despaired, and risked it all for the strongest bond of all, that glorious, undefinable unit we call family."--Cassandra King, bestselling author of five novels including Moonrise

"John Warley's marvelous novel A Southern Girl is the best book I've ever read about Charleston's mysterious and glittering high society. Its affirmation of the enduring power of parental love vying against that enigmatic realm is reverential and stunningly original, as stylish as a novel by John Irving and as tightly written as one by John Grisham. I wish I'd written this book."--Pat Conroy

Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-16
Under pressure from his liberal wife, a member of Charleston society reluctantly adopts a baby girl from Korea in this novel by Southerner Warley (The Moralist, 2011, etc.), himself the father of a daughter born in Korea. In the late 1970s, Elizabeth Carter and her litigating attorney husband, Coleman, are raising their two sons in New Hampton, Va. Elizabeth is a native Kansan. Although she plays the part of traditional wife and mother, she's a quiet rebel—i.e., she won't join the Junior League—who has always wanted to adopt a Korean baby. Coleman, on the other hand, was raised in Charleston by parents who drummed into his head the danger inherent in threatening their traditional values: God, family and South Carolina (by which they meant established Charleston families) above all. He has serious reservations about bringing an Asian child into the family, but he acquiesces, recognizing that it's time to cast off his parents' fear of change. Meanwhile, in Korea, a young mother reluctantly gives up her beloved infant, knowing that adoption in America is her daughter's one chance to survive and prosper. That child becomes Allie, the Carters' new daughter. Shortly after her arrival from Korea, the family moves back to Charleston, the only home Allie will know. Smart and adorable, she fits into the Carters' lives more seamlessly than either parent might have expected, and Coleman especially adores her. When tragedy strikes less than halfway through the novel, he rises to the occasion. But seven years later, when Allie is a Princeton-bound high school senior, a seemingly trivial issue—her exclusion from a society ball—becomes a major crisis. After Coleman fails to win over the society's board members, several of whom he counts as close friends, a Jewish ACLU attorney from New York pressures him to sue for discrimination. Although manipulatively written, with a heavy-handed plot and a cast of noble Asians, Warley's story offers a surprisingly nuanced take on political correctness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611173925
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/8/2014
  • Series: Story River Books
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 70,732
  • File size: 898 KB

Meet the Author


John Warley, a native South Carolinian, is a graduate of the Citadel and the University of Virginia School of Law. He practiced law in Virginia until 1993 when he moved to Mexico to write and teach. Now a full-time writer, Warley divides his time between Beaufort, South Carolina, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Therese Anne Fowler is author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    A Southern Girl has everything to love in a book: passion, intri

    A Southern Girl has everything to love in a book: passion, intrigue, beautiful settings, and characters you would like to have a drink with as well as ones into whose face you would like to toss that drink. John Warley makes the reader feel like a member of the club as he exposes prejudice and intolerance from the inside of Southern gentry. From tree-lined boulevards and luxurious homes in South Carolina and verdant gardens of colonial Mexico, to a modern city in South Korea and haunting country-side tunnels in Vietnam, tears of happiness, indignation, sadness, and triumph surface as the story of this Southern girl and her family unfolds.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2014

    Great Beach Read - I took this book with me to Atlantic Beach, N

    Great Beach Read - I took this book with me to Atlantic Beach, North Carolina and finished it in two days. It might have made me a little anti-social but the story was so engaging and the book was so well-written that it was worth it. For those who have lived in the South, you will recognize many of the characters and attitudes. If you have not had the pleasure of spending time in the South, this books serves as a unique introduction. I hoghly recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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