June 13, 2012

STARDUST, A Novel (My review)

STARDUST: A Novel 
By Carla Stewart

Reading this story makes me feel like I've made a new friend.

Georgia Peyton is a true southern gentlewoman; strong, yet open and kindhearted. She's gracious and generous, but not a pushover. What she gives, she does of her own choice. She quietly carries her hurts, longings, and betrayal, but remains loyal, regardless of whether or not it's deserved. The kindness she shows to her cheating dead husband's mother first comes from her instinctive sense of duty, but, as Georgia is challenged to dig deeper throughout this story, her care for Mary Frances comes from an untapped place in her core, borne out of compassion. I love this! I also admire the way her unconventional friendship with Ludi, the black woman from the bayou, begins so naturally. She slips it on like a favorite sweater, without regard to the constant censure of people in her life and community who can't see past color, fear, and bigotry.

Georgia is a woman who shows patience and respect for others even when she doesn't agree with them, yet she still has plenty of room to grow. Her life has been fraught with unanswered questions and memories that eat at her sense of security. In this story, when the polio epidemic moves in closer to home and fear escalates, Georgia must make difficult choices that affect those she loves. In the midst of fear, confusion, and the unknown, she must keep her head and consider what's best in the long run for others, and to follow through by faith.

Through forgiveness and surrender, she finds the love and peace she seeks, and I love that. Faith is ironic that way, best tested and strengthened when the outcome is unknown. An example of this is seen in one major test of Georgia's strength and grace: the challenge and opportunity to help her dead husband's mistress. Georgia's courage and willingness to go the extra mile for others--whether or not they deserve it--is a powerful example of Christ-like, sacrificial love you can put your trust in.

Besides my friend Georgia, what I loved about this story is its subtle complexity. While a smooth, easy read (Carla Stewart's soft southern voice is like a soothing song), its layers are rich with real characters, each with their own unique strengths and flaws, right down to the children, who charm us with their childish moods and true childlike wonder. While simply captivating and entertaining, this story gently touches on some weighty topics such as infidelity, addiction and prejudice with the same grace and compassion we quickly come to love it its heroine.

This is such a beautifully told and engaging story, but it's also a subtle but powerful lesson in hope, redemption, love, loyalty and grace that you won't soon forget.

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. . . .

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

I've published three novels and a novella (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have twenty-something kids. Decent trade, really. The window-rattling grumble isn't quite the same, but we are still enjoying the ride.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

MY ROOTS:
I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.

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Like There's No Tomorrow, Like a Love Song, and The Memoir of Johnny Devine are available in print & eBook at Amazon, B&N, Audible, Smashwords, iTunes, & Kobo.