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In her second novel, Friddle (The Garden Angel) returns to the family plot for the surprising story of a dysfunctional Southern family, a long-buried secret and the possibility of redemption. Aging housewife Emma Hanley lives in Palmetto, S.C., but dreams of traveling the world; unfortunately, her long-planned European vacation must be postponed when her erstwhile husband up and dies after his regular Saturday coffee klatch with a gaggle of female admirers. Left alone, Emma must learn to deal one-on-one with her mentally troubled son Bobby, born-again daughter Dora and the ghost of son Will, who was killed in Vietnam. While her family goes to pieces, Emma lets her yard go to seed; enter gardener Jake Cary, Dora's old flame, whose efforts to cultivate Emma's garden soon spill into her family life. With fluid prose and telling details, Friddle deftly captures the downward pull of the past and the Southern penchant for mythmaking; transcending the easy stereotypes of Southern dysfunctional family sagas, Friddle's clan is a genuinely quirky lot with its own unlikely ideas of happiness. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.