One of PureWow's "Best Beach Reads of Summer 2018"
New York Times bestselling author Karen White crafts evocative relationships in this contemporary women's fiction novel, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, about lifelong friends who share a devastating secret.
On the banks of the North Santee River stands a moss-draped oak that was once entrusted with the dreams of three young girls. Into the tree's trunk, they placed their greatest hopes, written on ribbons, for safekeeping—including the most important one: Friends forever, come what may.
But life can waylay the best of intentions....
Nine years ago, a humiliated Larkin Lanier fled Georgetown, South Carolina, knowing she could never go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she realizes she has no choice but to return to the place she both loves and dreads—and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.
Ivy, Larkin's mother, is discovered badly injured and unconscious in the burned-out wreckage of her ancestral plantation home. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly fifty years—whispers of love, sacrifice, and betrayal—that lead back to three girls on the brink of womanhood who found their friendship tested in the most heartbreaking ways.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.60(d)|
About the Author
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty previous books, including The Night the Lights Went Out, Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, A Long Time Gone, and The Time Between, and a coauthor, with Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig, of The Forgotten Room.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Georgetown, South Carolina
I am dead. Yet I smell the blooming evening primrose and hear the throaty chirps and creaky rattles of the purple martins flitting home across the marsh. I see their sleek iridescent bodies gliding against the bloodred sunset sky, through the blackened Corinthian columns and crumbling chimneys of Carrowmore. The house is named after a legendary thin place, far away in Ireland. I can hear Ceecee’s voice again in my head, telling me what the name means, and why I should stay away. But as with most things Ceecee has ever told me, I didn’t listen.
Carrowmore and I are both in ruins now, with wrinkles in our plaster and faults in our foundations. It’s oddly fitting that I should die in this house. I almost died here once before, when I was a little girl. I wonder if the house has been waiting for its second chance.
The thrum of Ellis’s 1966 Mustang rumbles in the distance. If I could move, I’d run out the front door and down the walk before he can honk the horn and irritate Daddy. There’s nothing Daddy dislikes more than Ellis’s long hair and that car.
But I can’t move. All I remember is stepping on a soft spot in the old wooden floor, then hearing the splintering of ancient, rotten wood. Now I’m lying here, broken in so many pieces.
My brain reminds me that Ellis has been gone forty years. His precious car sold before he shipped out to Fort Gordon in 1969. Still, the acrid scent of exhaust wafts over me, and I wonder with an odd hopefulness whether it’s Ellis, coming for me after all this time.
There’s something soft and silky crumpled in my fist. My fingers must have held tight when I first felt the ancient floor give way beneath my feet.
A hair ribbon. I’d pulled it from Larkin’s dresser drawer. My sweet baby girl. The daughter who’d always desperately wanted to be just like me. Almost as desperately as I wanted her to be different. I wanted her to be happy. Not that Larkin is a girl anymore. She’s too old for ribbons, but I kept everything in her room just the same as she left it, hoping one day she’d come home for good. Decide it was time to forgive all of us. To forgive herself.
I remember now using a black marker to write down the length of the ribbon, the letters bold and big, shouting my anger with silent strokes. But that’s the only clear memory I have. I can’t feel that anger anymore. Nor remember the reason for it. I must have driven here, but I don’t remember. Just me writing on that ribbon, and then here, falling. My brain is playing tricks on me, recalling things from long ago with the clarity of hindsight, yet leaving what happened only thirty minutes ago in a dark closet behind a locked door.
Bright pops of air explode inside my skull. Streaks of light like shooting stars flit past my line of vision. I think they’re the purple martins of my past, constant as the moon and stars in my memories. And then the pain comes, white-hot and precise, settling at the base of my head, then traveling upward, a large hand slowly constricting my brain.
Then darkness covers me like a mask, and everything fades away. Except for the engine fumes of an old car, and the raucous chirp of a thousand martins coming home to roost.
The introductory notes to an old song distracted me for a moment, causing me to glance up from my computer and look around with an oddly satisfying appreciation. I loved my desk. Not because it was beautiful or rare—it was neither—but because of its simple functionality.
It was no different from the metal desks of the other copywriters at Wax & Crandall, the ad agency where I’d worked for the past five years, except mine was devoid of all personal effects. No frames, no kitschy knickknacks or rubber-band balls. Nothing tacked up on the walls of my cubicle, either, or mementos of my four years spent at Fordham earning my undergraduate degree. My one concession to my past was a gold chain with three charms on it that I never removed but kept tucked inside my neckline.
I loved that nobody asked me why I seemed to have no past. This was New York, after all, where people seemed to care only about where you were going, not where you’d been. They just assumed that I had no husband or significant other, no children or siblings. Which was correct. The people I worked with knew I was from somewhere down south only because every once in a while, a long consonant or dropped syllable found its way into my sentences. I never mentioned that I was born and raised in Georgetown, South Carolina, or that if I closed my eyes long enough, I could still smell the salt marshes and the rivers that surrounded my hometown. My coworkers probably believed that I hated my home and that was why I left. And in that assumption, they’d be wrong.
There are reasons other than hating a place that make a person leave.
I turned to see Josephine—not “Jo” or “Josie,” but “Josephine”—standing at the entrance to my cubicle. The lack of a door meant people had to improvise when they wanted to enter. She was one of our account executives, a nice enough person if she liked you but someone to avoid if she didn’t.
“Are you busy?” she asked.
My fingers were at that moment poised above my keyboard, which made her question unnecessary, but Josephine wasn’t the type to notice such things. She was one of those women who commanded attention because of the way she looked—petite, with sun-streaked brown hair, and perpetually tanned—so it had become customary for her to get what she wanted with just a smile.
I was streaming Pandora on my computer, and the song playing would distract me until I could name it. It was an old habit I’d never been able to break. “Dream On.” Aerosmith. I smiled to myself.
“Excuse me?” Josephine said, and I realized I’d spoken aloud.
I thought back to her question. “Actually . . . ,” I said, but as I began, the vague feeling of disquiet that had been hovering over me since I’d awakened exploded into foreboding.
Ceecee would have said it was just somebody walking over my grave, but I knew it was the dream I’d remembered from the night before. A dream of falling, my arms and legs flailing, waiting to hit an invisible bottom.
Ignoring my body language, Josephine stepped closer. “Because I wanted to ask you about a dream I had last night. I was running, but it felt as if my feet were stuck in glue.”
I let my wrists rest on the edge of my desk but didn’t swivel my chair, hoping she’d take the hint. “You can Google it, you know. You can find out a lot about dreams on the Internet. It’s handy that way.” I kept my hands poised near the keyboard.
“Yes, I know, but I just thought it would be quicker if I asked you. Since you’re the expert.” She beamed a smile at me.
With a sigh, I turned around to face her. I wasn’t an expert—only well-read on the subject after years spent trying to analyze my mother’s dreams in an attempt to understand her better. As my delusional childhood self, I’d thought knowing what was in my mother’s head would help me unlock the reasons for the sadness and restlessness behind her eyes. I’d hoped she would be so grateful, she’d include me in her various quests for peace and beauty. I’d failed, but in the process, I’d discovered an avid interest in these windows into our subconscious. It gave me something to talk about at the rare parties I attended, a parlor trick I could pull out when conversation faltered.
“There are probably a million interpretations, but I think it might mean that some ambition in your life, like your career or love life, isn’t progressing as you’d like it to be, and you feel as if something were holding you back.”
Josephine blinked at me for several seconds, and I wasn’t sure whether she either didn’t understand or was in complete denial that anything could ever hold her back. “Thanks,” Josephine said, smiling brightly again, any self-doubt quickly erased. “You going with the group from sales to the Hamptons for the weekend?”
I shook my head, eager to get back to work. I was at the gym every afternoon at five thirty, meaning I had to leave at five. Though it kept me in shape, the habit didn’t allow for much after-hours socializing. Not that I didn’t like my coworkers—I did. They were a fun, creative, and young group, including a smattering of millennials who didn’t act too much like millennials. I just found that I preferred socializing with them in an office setting, making it easier to escape back to my desk if any question went beyond which apartment I lived in and whether I preferred the subway or cabbing it.
“No,” I said. “I think I’ll stay in the city.” It never ceased to amaze me that people who complained about the crowded city always seemed to gravitate toward the same beaches at the same time with the same people from whom they were trying to escape. “The water will be ice-cold, anyway. It’s still only April.”
Josephine scrunched up her nose, and I noticed how nothing else wrinkled. She said she used Botox only as a preventative measure, but from what I could tell, she was well on her way to looking like one of the gargoyle women I saw shopping in the high-end stores on Fifth Avenue. As Ceecee would say, it just wasn’t natural.
“Not any colder than usual,” Josephine insisted. “Come on. It’ll be fun. We’ve got a huge house in Montauk. There’re two queen beds in my room, if you don’t mind sharing with me. You could analyze everyone’s dreams.”
I was tempted. I’d never been part of a group or hung out with girls who rented houses together and took trips on the weekends. For a brief time in elementary school, I’d had a cluster of friends my age, but by the time we reached middle school, they’d formed their own smaller groups, none of which included me. I’d always had Mabry and her twin brother, Bennett, though. Our mothers were best friends, and we’d been bathed in the same bathtub when we were babies. That right there made us best friends, whether or not we ever acknowledged it. At least until our senior year in high school, when we’d stopped being friends at all.
The memory made it easier for me to shake my head. “Thanks for the invite, but I’ll stay home. I might rearrange my furniture. I’ve been thinking about it.”
Josephine gave me an odd look. “Sure. Oh, well, maybe it’s for the best. I don’t want to be the one standing next to you wearing a bikini—that’s for sure.”
“For the record, I don’t own a bikini.” I was more a T-shirt-and-boy-shorts type girl. “But thanks for asking. Maybe next time, okay?”
My cell phone buzzed where it lay faceup on my desk. I didn’t have a picture or a name stored in the directory, but I didn’t need to. It was the first cell phone number I’d ever memorized. When I didn’t move to pick it up, Josephine pointed to it with her chin. “Aren’t you going to get that?”
It was oddly telling that she didn’t excuse herself to give me privacy. I reached over and silenced it. “No. I’ll call him back later.”
“Him?” she asked suggestively.
“My father.” I never took his calls, no matter how many times he tried. When I’d first come to New York, the calls were more frequent, but over the past year or so, they’d tapered down to about one per week—sprinkled across different days and times, as if he were trying to catch me off guard. He wasn’t giving up. And neither was I. I’d inherited the Lanier bullheadedness from him, after all.
“So, you have a father.” Josephine looked at me expectantly.
The phone started buzzing again. I was about to toss it in my drawer, when I noticed it was a different number, another number that I knew and received calls from frequently, but never when I was at work. It was Ceecee, the woman who’d raised my mother, who was pretty much my grandmother in standing. She was too in awe of my working in New York City to ever want to interrupt me during office hours. Unless there was a good reason.
I picked up the phone. “Please excuse me,” I said to Josephine. “I need to take this.”
“Fine,” Josephine said. “Just know that if your body is ever found behind some Dumpster in Queens, we won’t know who to call.”
Ignoring her, I turned my back to the cubicle opening. “Ceecee?” I spoke into the phone. “Is everything all right?”
“No, sweetheart. I’m afraid it’s not.” Her voice sounded thick, as if she had a cold. Or had been crying. “It’s your mama.”
I sat up straighter. “What’s wrong with Mama?” I tried to prepare myself for her answer. Ivy Lanier was anything but predictable. But anything I could have imagined couldn’t have prepared me for what Ceecee said next.
“She’s missing. Nobody’s seen her since yesterday morning. Your daddy said when he got home from work yesterday that she and her car were gone. We’ve called all of her friends, but nobody’s seen her or heard from her.”
“Yesterday morning? Have you called the police?”
“Yes—the minute I heard. The sheriff has filed a report, and he’s got people looking for her.”
My mind filled and emptied like the marsh at the turning of the tides, enough stray bits clinging that I could form my first question. “Where was she yesterday morning?”
A pause. “She was here. She’s been here just about every day for the last month, refinishing her daddy’s old desk out in the garage. She’d come inside—I only know that because she left the kitchen a mess, the drawers yanked out. Like she was looking for something.”
“And you have no idea what?” The thread of panic that had woven into my voice surprised me.
There was a longer pause this time, as if Ceecee were considering the question. And the possible answer. “I thought she might have wanted more spare rags for the refinishing. I keep a bag on the floor of the pantry. It’s empty, though. She must have forgotten she’d used them all.”
“But she was looking through the drawers and cabinets.”
“Yes. When I saw her car pull away, I thought she was just running to the hardware store. But the police have checked—she didn’t go there. Your daddy and I are beside ourselves with worry.”
I closed my eyes, anticipating her next words.
“Please come home, Larkin. I need someone here. I’m afraid . . .” Her voice caught, and she was silent.
“Ceecee, you know Mama is always off in one direction or another. You’ve always called her a dandelion seed—remember? This wouldn’t be the first time she’s run off without explanation.” The words sounded hollow, even to me. My dream returned to me suddenly, jerking me backward as if I’d finally hit the ground, the air knocked from my lungs.
“She always comes back the same day,” Ceecee said fiercely. “They’ve checked all the roads within a hundred miles of here. Your daddy’s driven Highway Seventeen all the way up to Myrtle Beach, as far south as Charleston.” She paused again. “I wasn’t going to tell you this, but I had a dream last night. I dreamed I was falling.”
I stared at the black letters against the white background on my computer screen, lines and symbols that suddenly meant nothing at all. “Did you land?” I asked.
“I don’t remember.” There was a long silence and then, “Please, Larkin. Something bad has happened. I feel it. I need you to come home. We need you to come home.”
I closed my eyes again, seeing the place I was from, the creeks and marshes of my childhood that fed into the great Atlantic. When I was a little girl, my daddy said I bled salt water; it was in my veins. Maybe that was why I didn’t go back more than once a year, at Christmas. Maybe I was afraid I’d be sucked in by the tides, my edges blurred by the water. There was more than one way a person could drown.
“All right,” I said. I opened my eyes, disoriented as I imagined the brush of spartina grass against my bare legs, but saw only my metal desk under fluorescent lights. “I’ll take the first flight I can find into Charleston and rent a car. I’ll call you to let you know when to expect me.”
“Thank you. I’ll let your daddy know.”
“And call me if you hear anything about Mama.”
“Have you called Bitty?” I asked.
Her voice had a sharpness to it. “No. I’m not sure if she’s really needed—”
I cut her off. “Then I’ll call her. If something’s happened to Mama, she’ll want to be there.”
“She’ll just make a fuss.”
“Probably,” I agreed. But despite her own flurried wind, Bitty always helped me find the calm in the eye of whatever storm I found myself. “But she loves Mama as much as you do. She needs to know what’s happened.”
I could hear the disapproval in Ceecee’s voice. “Fine. Call her, then. But please get here as soon as you can.”
As soon as I hit the “end” button, my phone buzzed with another incoming call. I recognized the 843 area code, but not the rest of the number. Thinking it might have something to do with my mother, I answered it. “Hello?”
A deep male voice, almost as familiar to me as the sound of rain in a flood-swollen creek, spoke. “Hello, Larkin. It’s Bennett.”
I quickly ended the call without answering, and put my phone on “silent.” I felt as if I were back in my dream, falling and falling into a dark abyss and wondering how long it would take before I hit the bottom.
Excerpted from "Dreams of Falling"
Copyright © 2018 Karen White.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
Questions for Discussion
1. Friendship is everlasting—or at least that’s how the old saying goes. Why do you think CeeCee and Bitty continued to stay friends even after everything that happened?
2. To err is human; to forgive, divine. Forgiveness plays a prominent role in the book—everyone needs to learn to forgive one another, but also themselves. Would you be able to forgive as the characters did?
3. The past can define one’s future—or one can build her own future. How does Larkin decide not to let the past define her and to live life the way she wants to live it?
4. Love can blind us—and even cause us to keep secrets from those we love. Would you keep a secret, as CeeCee did from Larkin, all in the name of love?
5. Honor and duty tears many of the characters’ relationships apart—including that between Boyd and CeeCee. Do you agree with Boyd’s decision? Or regret it, as he did in the end?
6. True love is one of the subjects of the book—but true love exists not only in a romantic sense but also in a motherly sense. How did you feel when you realized that through Ivy’s murals, Larkin learned she was really her mother’s true love?
7. Bennett patiently waited for Larkin—would you be able to do the same?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A story of love, friendship, intrigue, and many other emotions. Did not want to put it down and did not want it to end.
I love Karen, never miss a book.. But she truly outdid herself with this one. Didn't want it to end.. But I can see another book from this one.... Patiently waiting. Maybe Melly and Jack will visit?
I usually love Karen White's books but this was disappointing . Really could not get into it. Disappointing .
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Karen White is one of those authors for me where I either love or just ehh her books. This was the first time that I didn't enjoy a certain storyline, but adored others, it was a different kind of read for me. Let me start with the storyline that I would have cut. Ivy is the middle generation in this story and she is in a coma after a fall. While in her coma she is still able to narrate in the present and that was interesting. The part that didn't add to the main storyline and instead just added pages was her storyline with Ellis. It was just another character to add to the large cast and just didn't mean much to me throughout the book.
Karen White provides an interesting Southern story, but the incorrect usage of raise/rear set this reader on edge. Animals are raised, and people are reared, according to proper English. The incorrect usage sounds like a scratch on a blackboard and ruined the story as this verb was used in every chapter. Also, I either missed or Karen White omitted the importance of Ellis in relation to Ivy in the story. The segments divided among the 1950’s and current times provides insight into the various women of the story. The secrets that each person carries in order to protect a loved one do not always follow expectations. Karen White evolves vivid pictures of South Carolina and the seasons and the grandeur of old Southern plantations and the boundaries of friendship.
Karen White’s books are always a perfect blend of family, friendship, mystery, and a little romance. In her latest book “Dreams of Falling” she offers us two generations of strong female friendships. After nine years away, Larkin returns to her childhood home in South Carolina when her mother Ivy takes a life-threatening fall, a fall that becomes the catalyst for exposing long held secrets. Larkin had fled her home insisting she would never return. When Ivy is found in the burned out ruins of her family’s ancestral home, unconscious and badly injured, Larkin becomes determined to find out why her mother was there. It is in this search that Larkin uncovers the secrets kept by three teenage friends who fifty years earlier had sworn to remain best friends forever, never imagining the heartache that would result from that vow. I admired the strength of the friendships in this story – the older generation (Margaret, Ceecee, and Bitty) and the younger generation (Larkin, Mabry, and Bennett). Their love for and loyalty to each other is so strong that they keep secrets to protect those they love. Just as the older generation had their secrets, so too do the younger friends Larkin, Mabry, and Bennett - secrets kept in an effort to protect one of them. But it seems that all secrets are at some point revealed, leading to unknown consequences. This is the true beauty of Karen White’s writings – how do those who loved each other so strongly deal with consequences of those secrets. Ms. White reveals the flaws in each of her characters, making them more human. She artfully wove together the strands of the backstories, slowly revealing the puzzle pieces one at a time. As the story evolved I found myself asking/guessing what role each character played in the central event. When I reached the end of the story, I marveled at the beauty of the writing and how well, and naturally, it all came together. This is a story that tugged at my heart as the friends were dealt so much tragedy that normally would have destroyed friendships. Yet these friends stayed true. I loved the characters, laughing with them, crying with them, asking “What were you thinking” a few times, and so hoping that a little sunshine would fall into their lives. I do highly recommend this book. I received an Advance Review Copy of this book.
Three young girls are best friends and declare that they will be "friends forever". As they mature life steps in and as they still try to hold the bond, it weakens. Love is a central theme of this story.
I love Karen`s books she makes the characters seem like your old friends. I couldn`t put it down,couldn`t wait to see what happened next. It is a story of love,mystery, friendship and many emotions. I know you will enjoy the book as much as I did
Very enjoyable read. Characters come to life.
Secrets, a long-ago mystery, and a large old house that may have the answers This novel has all the wonderful qualities of a Kate Morton novel: sisters/girlfriends with secrets, a long-ago mystery, a large old house that may have the answers, and a story that goes back and forth in time. The main characters are well-developed, believable, and different enough from each other to avoid confusion. As I was reading, it seemed that the author was slowly revealing the story's secrets to the characters (like peeling the layers of an onion). My only complaint is I was able to discover the secrets before the characters. There were no surprises, just confirmations. I like the way the theme of dreams (note the title) is subtlety woven throughout the novel and how the author brings the small town of Georgetown, South Carolina to life with many descriptions of the area - the climate, the sounds and smells, the vegetation and the wildlife. This is the first of Karen White's books I've read. I received an advance reader's copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Family secrets and drama are something every family experiences. Larkin ran from her hometown and family to escape all that but when she is pulled back due to her mother being in the hospital she starts to realize that her memories may not be quite so spot on. What she thinks she remembers may not be the entire truth, there might be more to her family that she was never aware of, and there are friendships she left behind that might have more to tell. I loved that the friends she ran from still had open arms welcoming her home as if she had never left. The family that she left doesn’t push her to stay just work on reminding her what she was missing and why she shouldn’t leave again. Dreams of Falling is a story rich with family history. The history starts with Margaret, CeeCee, and Bitty and their amazing friendship. Add Ivy, Margaret’s daughter, to that history a few years later and the story just gets more interesting. Then Ivy has a daughter, Larkin, and you have three generations of wonderful, strong, and smart women. The thing with history is that there are secrets kept, hidden, or needing to be forgotten. I am a Karen White fan and recommend this wonderful Southern fiction story.
Dreams of Falling by Karen White is a standalone novel . This is my first book by White, and after completing this wonderful story, it will not be my last. Dreams of Falling is novel about family, loyalty, bonds and friends (past and present), who share devastating secrets that will come to haunt them . Larkin, our heroine, receives a call that her mother, Ivy is missing. It has been 9 years since she left her home in Georgetown, South Carolina, and though she left on bad terms, she returns to help look for her mother. Larkin is greeted by the two women who helped raise her, as substitute mothers, CeeCee and Bitty. Together they try to find clues where her mother is, and eventually they narrow it down to the old decrepit mansion, Carrowmore, which still belongs to the Darlington’s, which CeeCee is executor. The three of them will find Ivy unconscious, having fallen through a caved in floor. The story will revolve around the POV’s of Larkin, Ivy, and CeeCee, moving smoothly through the present and 50 years in the past. This was so very well done. Larkin will find out in short time things her mother and the two ladies who brought her up kept secret, including that she is the heir of the land. This is the just the tip of the iceberg, as Larkin will learn many more secrets, which go back 50 years into the past, where CeeCee, Bitty and Margaret (Larkin’s grandmother) were best friends, who were always loyal to each other, even when things took a drastic turn. We will learn about the fire that destroyed Carrowmore, and caused the death of Margaret and the rescue of baby Ivy from the fire. The mystery of what happened all those years before, and how it affects the lives of everyone was the main focus of this story. Larkin will also have to face the friends (Mabry & Bennett) that she left behind when she decided to run away, and her father, whom she became distant with. Truths will be revealed that will bring Larkin back to her friendships, as she realizes the mistakes and misunderstandings that made her run away. Dreams of Falling was a wonderful heartwarming and heart wrenching emotional tale of friendships, love, betrayal, family bonds, tragedy, grief; with an amazing cast of characters. I loved Larkin, CeeCee, & Bitty, as well as Larkin’s friends Mabry and Bennett. Bravo to Karen White for this wonderful story that is not to be missed.
Again, Karen White takes us into the workings of friends. How much would you sacrifice for your best friend(s). Three girls, swear to be best friends always (before BFF was thought of!) no matter what, no matter who, no matter anything. When Ivy is hurt in an accident, why was she in the burned out plantation? Her daughter, Larkin returns home to South Carolina, where she meets people she has been avoiding since she graduated both friends of hers and her own family. I've become a fan of Karen White, "Sound of Glass" "The Night the Lights Went Out" and now "Dreams of Falling" wonderful books. Thanks to First to Read and Penguin Books for the ARC.
Dreams of Falling is the latest offering by award winning author Karen White. Advertising editor Larkin Lanier has been called home to Georgetown, SC, when her mother goes missing. Upon her return, Larkin joins forces with her grandmother’s close friends Ceecee and Bitty to find her mother, which they do. She has been seriously injured in the burnt out shell of the family home, Carrowmore. During the weeks of her mother’s hospitalization, Larkin comes face to face with the past, her family’s and her own. She is forced to face facts about her own growing up years, to speak again to those she had thought to have left behind, and to learn to forgive herself for her own girlhood foolishness. Larkin also makes discoveries previously unknown to her that explain occurrences between her parents that have helped to drive her away. And, most surprisingly, Larkin unravels the full mystery of her grandmother Margaret’s death in the fire that destroyed Carrowmore. Again, Karen White writes a complex story spanning three generations of southern women, sharing their hopes and dreams, fears and foibles, and the wishes they had left on ribbons in the wishing tree. This book is a great read, and I do recommend it!
“Friends forever, come what may” Karen White has done it again with her stunning Southern charm storytelling. Her detailed and attentive descriptions are so accurate, you’ll feel like you’re sitting on a dock, reading a story about your friends and family. She uses strong female bonds, a touch of romance and a background of history to weave together a captivating story of secrets and family drama. Between chapters, White turns back time to the 50’s and the sister-like friendship between 3 young women on the cusp of adulthood. Margaret, CeeCee and Bitty are 18 and have one big trip together before the responsibilities of growing up are thrust into their laps. Two weeks in Myrtle Beach bring life altering events that none of the girls were prepared for. There was such loyalty and sadness in this story that it brought tears to my eyes. I definitely enjoyed these parts of the book more so than the chapters in the present. In the current time, only two of these young women are present. What has happened in the years between has changed not only their lives, but the lives of the generations that follow. Secrets planned to be taken to the grave have worked their way out into the open and have caused an upheaval in the lives of Margaret’s daughter and grand-daughter. Ivy, Margaret’s daughter, is unconscious in the hospital, but we still have a few insights from her throughout the book. Larkin, Ivy’s daughter, has returned to South Carolina after an embarrassing event caused her to run to New York and never look back. She has tried very hard to change into someone who makes very little impact on those around her, but returning to her roots threatens to force Larkin to mend her broken bridges. Karen White has created quite a cast of characters and at first, it was a bit hard to keep up with who’s who, but I caught on after a couple of chapters. I have to say I definitely looked forward to the chapters taking place in the 50’s but I’m also a self-proclaimed historical fiction junkie. I think Larkin got on my nerves so that made the present-day chapters a little less enjoyable BUT just goes to show what a great writer White is, it’s not every day a character is created that can actually annoy me I can’t place one specific characteristic that annoyed me, I just didn’t connect with Larkin. The other characters I greatly enjoyed. While there were some eye-roll cheesy “who saw that coming?” moments, there was also enough intrigue to keep me interested and reading the book. I did feel like parts could have been hacked out, it felt a little too long (much like The Night The Lights Went Out) but there WERE two stories being told here. Overall, I would rate Dreams Of Falling 3.5 stars but dang Goodreads and it’s lack of 1/2 star ratings, I rounded up because I enjoy Karen White overall. This book would make a PERFECT vacation read, it isn’t hard to follow and it’s just the right amount of suspence, mystery, romance and charm! I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts.
When Ivy is found unconscious in an old plantation home and taken to the hospital, her daughter, Larkin, returns to her hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina. Larkin begins searching for answers as to why her mother was at the home which leads to discovering decades old secrets. This is a story of friendship, love, heartbreak, family, and figuring out where you truly belong. Karen White's books fit the definition of comfort reading to me. While there might be some elements of predictability, I know that when I start the book, I'm going to be in for an enjoyable read. And as always the Southern setting plays an important role in the story, almost like an actual character in the book. I loved the alternating timelines and the different characters' point of view. This book really showed what lengths people are willing to go to for love and how decisions made with the best intentions might have lasting consequences. Overall, this book hit all the right notes for me and I definitely recommend especially if you are a fan of Karen White's other books. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! All views expressed are my honest opinion.
IMG_3714My Review of “Dreams of Falling” by Karen White Berkley June, 2018 I loved everything about “Dreams of Falling” by Karen White. Karen White has an amazing way of telling a story and describing her characters and landscape. I especially appreciate the colorful cast of characters and their relationships. “Dreams of Falling” is a novel about friendship, sisterhood, and family. The Genres for this story are Fiction and Women’s Fiction. The timeline of the story is the author’s present and goes to the past when it pertains to the characters or events in the story. The story mostly takes place in the low country of South Carolina. The author describes her characters as complex and complicated. Larkin returns to South Carolina after an absence of nine years, when her mother Ivy has a devastating fall. Larkin has strong feelings about her return to South Carolina. When she returns home she realizes that there are betrayals, dark secrets going back fifty years. Fifty years earlier there were three close friends, who would write what their dreams and wishes would be and put them in an oak tree. One of those young girls is Larkin’s grandmother. They had promised each other “Friends forever come what may”, not realizing what the future would hold. Larkin seems to be in touch with the meaning of dreams at times. The author discusses family, friendship, betrayals, loyalty, hope , love and forgiveness. This is a wonderful, engaging novel that I would highly recommend to readers that like Historical Fiction. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
Story about so many kinds of love
I had heard of Karen White but had never read any of her previous works so, I was glad to receive an advanced copy of Dreams of Falling from Penguin Random House. Sometimes, having high expectations set for a particular book or author ends up being a letdown but Karen White did not disappoint. Dreams of Falling definitely showcases her talent as she seamlessly weaves in & out of several different generations, storylines, decades and points of view without missing a beat or making it hard to follow. I tend to lose interest with many books that feature an “ensemble cast” of characters or if I don’t really identify with a narrator but, in Dreams, each character was so well fleshed out that I understood & cared about them anyway. Much of the novel revolves around putting pieces together with the intent of figuring out age old secrets so, I guess it would technically belong in the Mystery/Suspense category but there is so much more to it than that. It is a story about friendships and love and sacrifice and family (be it the one we are born in to or the one we create for ourselves). It is a coming of age novel & an ugly duckling story & a journey of discovering who we are & why. I can’t recall another author that has managed to combine so many different elements with out it just turning in to a jumbled mess. I will definitely be adding the rest of White’s work to my bookshelf in the near future.