By: Karen White
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: June 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 2014
Karen White delivers yet another superb story in her latest novel, A Long Time Gone.
Vivien Walker Moise thinks about her ‘long time gone’ as she makes her way across country from California back to her Indian Mound, Mississippi homeland. When she left nine years earlier, she vowed never to return. As she drives the last miles of that familiar road back to her childhood home, she thinks about the bed she was born in—the same bed in which her mama and her mama before her was born. Now would be a good time to pause and take another one of her mother’s little helpers as she mottles through her conflicted thoughts...
Her marriage was over and there was nothing left to keep Vivien in California. Maybe if her ex hadn’t forbidden contact with her twelve-year-old stepdaughter, Chloe, after the divorce she would have stuck around. She thought about her miscarriage, the constant reminder and final straw to the unraveling of her marriage. No matter, she had bigger fish to fry. She had no business driving her Jag on the muddy backwoods roads of the Mississippi Delta; especially given the storm that was chasing her faster than she was able to outdrive it.
The one guiding light Vivien would always have was her beloved grandmother, Bootsie. She always managed to right all the wrongs her own mother, Carole Lynne, dealt Vivien. Besides, her mother was gone more than she was present; especially after she jumped from the Tallahatchie Bridge. It seemed that was the final straw in Vivien’s twenty-eight years of life that convinced her to go to California in the first place. Not too long after she swallowed that last calming remedy without the comfort of water, Vivien is ripped from her reverie when she hits the mud rut on the shoulder and manages to bury her fancy wheels deep into the Mississippi mud. After a few failed attempts the reality hits her: "That Jag wasn’t going anywhere..." Thankfully, she can see the outlines of her “Dr. Seuss” home on the horizon and sets out on foot to complete the last leg of her journey. What Vivien didn’t realize in the years she was gone chasing ghosts, however, was the time had come for their ultimate face off.
Karen White has spun absolute magic once again in her latest novel, A Long Time Gone. Just like her previous novel, The Time Between, I could not put it down before the last page had been read. Worlds apart in their story lines, there is instant connection in this book as is the case with her entire catalogue of work. In her latest book, the storyline delivers four generations of truly magnificent women of substance. Ms. White has developed such depth and solid foundation to support the essence of soul and credibility in each character she has created. The story transcends historical periods of the mighty Mississippi Delta ranging from the great floods in the ‘20s to modern day in the antebellum south and all its glory and proper southern charm. Haunting and heart-wrenching depth weeps from the pages of beautiful prose, descriptive scenery and credible dialogue. This is one writer who no matter the length of the novel, has mastered the art of storytelling which ignites conscious apprehension from the reader when the pages dwindle in number. Karen White is an amazingly gifted writer and captures the full attention of her readership from the first page to the very last. She writes a story that this reader simply doesn’t want to end and leaves you with the memory of characters who live on long after the story has ended. Thank you once again Ms. White for a fantastic read. You are a writer who truly knows how to hook your reader.
Quill says: The greatest frustration one experiences upon finishing one of Ms. White’s novels is enduring the time between its end and the delivery of her next novel!