Saturday, May 3, 2008

Painted Dresses-Patricia Hickman

Painted Dresses
Patricia Hickman
Waterbrook, Jul 2008, $15.99
ISBN: 9781400071999

Twenty something Gaylen Syler-Boatwright had dreams of forever when she married; now her marriage is dead and her fantasy nuked as she and Braden broke up. With her father dying, she comes home to Boiling Springs, North Carolina to say good-bye and to bury him. Afterward needing to escape, Gaylen accompanied by her flakey younger sister Delia leaves town to hide away at her late Aunt Amity’s mountain cottage.

Gaylen figures in this isolated locale she will be left alone to reassess her goals. However, her aunt’s cabin is freaky as on display is a gallery of framed painted dresses accompanied by a fascinating travelogue. The two sisters agree to hit the road to meet family members they never knew existed and learn more about the original owners of the painted dresses.

This engaging intelligent character study makes a strong case that hiding family shame makes the incident even darker and more shameful even if it is never exposed; those concealing the truth know it in their hearts. Although some might challenge the truth will free you concept, Patricia Hickman makes a compelling argument. Filled with angst, the Syler sisters seek solace as they search the new south for their heritage.

Harriet Klausner

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