What To Read in 2021

I read a lot, as I guess you do as well. Doing challenges like last year’s Modern Mrs. Darcy was one way to read things that I normally wouldn’t. The challenge was great. I enjoyed reading a wide range of books, but for 2021, I’m going to focus on Women’s Fiction. Sounds pretty straightforward, seeing as that is what I write.

You might recall, I looked into what the genre really is a few months ago. You can read that article here if you need a refresher, but the quick answer is this:

Women’s Fiction is an emotionally-driven story focusing on a female main character who is struggling with some aspect of life. A power struggle ensues and by the end of the book, the reader hopes to see the main character stronger, wiser, happier or whatever “—er” you have in mind.

In gathering a list of books to read for 2021, I’ve discovered some popular sub-genres, paranormal and mystery to name a few. My plan is to sample a book from each sub-genre and see if they match the overall expectations that are there for Women’s Fiction. Rather than put together a list, I’m going to wing it. If 2020 taught me anything, it was “Be prepared to improvise.” I’m taking that to heart this year.

The second Thursday of each month, I’ll let you know what book I’ve read along with a brief summary. I’m not planning to review the books per se, but I’ll share my reactions. This year is all about broadening my horizons. There are some types of Women’s Fiction I have not read, so I’m going to fix that this year. I suspect that I won’t like everything I encounter, but that’s okay. There is something out there for everyone. 

On to January’s book:

Charleston Green by Stephanie Alexander

The following is the description of the book taken from the author’s website.

If Tipsy Collins learned one thing from her divorce, it’s that everyone in Charleston, South Carolina is a little crazy—even if they’re already dead.

Tipsy may not be able to ignore her nutty friends or vindictive ex-husband, but as a reluctant, lifelong clairvoyant, she has always avoided dead people. That all changes when she and her three children move into a new house on Bennett Street in Charleston. There, Tipsy learns that some ghosts won’t be ignored.

’Til death do us part didn’t pan out for Jane and Henry Mott, who have haunted the Bennett Street house for nearly a century. In fact, Tipsy’s marriage was downright felicitous compared to Jane and Henry’s ill-fated union. Jane believes Henry killed her and then himself—though Henry vehemently denies both accusations. Unfortunately, neither phantom remembers all the details of that ill-fated afternoon in 1923. 

Tipsy doesn’t know whether to side with Jane, who seems to be hiding something under her southern-belle charm, or Henry, a mercurial and creative genius. As Jane and Henry draw Tipsy into their conundrum, she uncovers secrets long concealed under layers of good manners, broken promises, and soupy Lowcountry air. But living with ghosts takes a toll on Tipsy’s health, and possibly even her sanity. Struggling to forge a new path for herself and her children, she discovers a chance to set Jane and Henry free, and perhaps release the ghosts of her own complex past.

I keep saying I’m not much of a paranormal person, but I find myself gravitating to books like this. I’m not sure if it’s the main character’s ability to learn from other’s mistakes or the fact that it’s cool to make up rules for ghosts, but I enjoyed the book.

That being said, I struggled at the beginning. The first chapter is full of background information, especially about the paint color Charleston Green. I’m not from the South, nor am I much of a history person so I wasn’t sure the book was for me. But I kept going and once I met Jane and Henry, the resident ghosts in the house, I knew I needed to finish the book.

The past and present are woven together in a seamless story, telling of Tipsy’s current troubles and insecurities and of Jane’s past indiscretions. The book is a mystery as well and I found myself tracking the clues that were planted throughout the story. (I’m not a big fan of a fancy solution at the end of a mystery when none of the clues were obvious. Or obvious to me.)

This is a standalone book. Alexander also has a 3-book series, The Cracked Slipper Series, which according to the author’s website is friendly take on the myth of happily-ever-after.

If you enjoy paranormal with a side of Southern humor, Charleston Green is worth a read. You can find out more about the book here.

Until next time…

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash