Sunday, October 21, 2012

Postcards from Cedar Key by Terri DuLong

Berkeley Whitmore moves to Cedar Key, Florida to open up a chocolate shop.  At least, that’s one of the reasons she moves there.  The other reason is to figure out the mystery that surrounds her recently deceased mother.  After finding postcards that her mother left, Berkeley thinks that a move to Cedar Key will not only be a business opportunity, but also a chance to find out why her mother went to Cedar Key for several months when Berkeley was 5, leaving her behind.
 She asks nearly everyone on the island for information and is stumped, even as she gets to know the residents of Cedar Key.  She also meets and falls in love with Saxton, a mystery writer who has also settled in the quaint town.  Berkeley enjoys getting to know the other local knitters, the customers that enter the chocolate shop, and other local residents.
Berkeley makes nearly no progress in her quest to learn about her mother until the last third of the book. Each towns person she asks has no clue about a woman who worked in the town for a summer—40 years ago!  I cannot say that I am shocked.  What did surprise me was that Berkeley spent so much time to figure out where her mother went for ONE summer.
This book wore me out—and not in a good way.  The arc of each chapter seemed to be the same for the first half of the book.  Berkeley sells some chocolate (which seems to have some magical powers to help people fall in love).  She meets some local towns person (who all melded together to me.  They did not possess distinct personalities to help me remember them clearly).  She knits or talks about the alpacas that supply her yarn.  Then, there is a clunky bit of foreshadowing about the big “mystery” concerning her mother.  Finally, the whole cycle begins again.  I was so weary that I started not to care what happened to her mother.
There was very little heat between Berkeley and Saxton.  While I found his character likable, there was little in the way of deep conversation between the two of them.  What I remember most about him is that Berkeley always complains (internally) about how cluttered his apartment is.  Every romantic scene, which are all “dim the lights and fade out” scenes, contains the stark sentence “I love you”.  No variety at all, and certainly no angst.  When Saxton’s daughter and ex-wife appear later in the novel, Berkeley gets a bit jealous, but the reader learns so little about either character that the potential love triangle goes nowhere.
When the “mystery” was finally revealed, I was no closer to understanding Berkeley or her mother than I had been before the big reveal. Without giving the mystery away, let me just say that the entire situation seemed to be handled in a way that made little sense.  I did not understand the actions of Berkeley’s mother at all.  While I applaud the author for tackling such a heavy subject, it seemed overdone and implausible.
 Finally, I was a bit uncomfortable with a “celebration” at the end of a book—a party celebrating sprinkling the ashes of a loved one and a new baby in the town--at the same time.  It seemed odd.
 The small town feel, the quaint setting, and the knitting circle may interest some readers of women’s fiction.  For me, Postcards from Cedar Key was not enough to hold my attention.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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