Tupelo author Elaine Hussey hit one out of the park with “The Sweetest Hallelujah,” but could she do it again with her latest novel?
I believe she has.
“The Oleander Sisters,” set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1969 as a storm named Camille courses closer, is Hussey at her finest.
The novel is the second foray into literary fiction for Harlequin’s MIRA imprint by Tupelo author Peggy Webb.
With the idea that a different genre deserved a different name, Webb has put together her middle name and her maiden name to come up with her penname.
This novel has the capacity to appeal to a multitude of readers.
First of all, and perhaps most important to me, anyone who has, has had or has loved a sister will understand the complex – and very real – relationship between Sis and Emily Blake.
Hearts will break, mend and break again as Sis, the older of the two, watches her baby sister, Emily, make choices that could – and do – take her to dangerous places.
“The Oleander Sisters” also will appeal to readers who have long loved the Gulf Coast. Hussey, whose last novel was set in Tupelo, has placed the Blake family smack in the middle of the Coast, mentioning restaurants many of us will remember from childhood trips.
Then there’s the culinary piece of the pie. The sisters, their grandmother, Sweet Mama, and Sweet Mama’s beloved best friend, Beulah run Sweet Mama’s Cafe, home of the famous Amen Cobbler, which is, well, to die for.
In Hussy’s “The Oleander Sisters,” there truly is something for everyone.
There’s history, from man’s first steps on the moon to Hurricane Camille to the Vietnam War; there’s family drama, including domestic violence that should anger and upset all and the monsters Sis and Emily’s brother brings home with him from Vietnam; and there’s great mystery, with an assortment of astonishing surprises, and twists and turns.
And, as in Hussey’s “The Sweetest Hallelujah,” “The Oleander Sisters” offers up sweet slices of acceptance, forgiveness and redemption, and fierce family loyalties that have the power to save lives.
Elaine Hussey has another winner under her belt.
Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of “The Oleander Sisters” as soon as possible. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to put it down.
The book will be available in trade paperback, ebook and audio book on Tuesday.