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Under the Southern Sky


Under the Southern Sky

As I read Kristy Woodson Harvey’s UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY, I thought of an old expression: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

Well, protagonist Amelia Buxton has had enough of God’s laughter at this point. Within the scope of a week, she has lost her husband and her job. Well, she didn’t exactly lose Thad --- more like she discovered that he was having an affair with Chase, her hair stylist, “the only man who has ever given me proper highlights.” Coupled with the fact that she was let go from her magazine job in a corporate restructure, Amelia feels completely unmoored. Maybe her dream of running a magazine and living in glamorous Palm Beach with the perfect husband was just that --- a dream.

"UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY is more than sweet Southern fiction --- it packs a punch and leads you in all sorts of unexpected directions.... The book will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Wingate..."

For years, Amelia admired Greer McCann Thaysden as she helped her family’s media company soar to new heights. Greer was the IT career girl who made it all look effortless, even as she battled ovarian cancer. Parker, Greer’s husband, is a childhood friend of Amelia, even once saving her life from a riptide in their quaint, coastal North Carolina hometown. He, along with everyone who knew Greer, was devastated by her death. Now, three years later, Parker is still struggling to go on with his life, working for his late wife’s family company, McCann Media, which coincidentally just bought out Amelia’s magazine. But as busy as he keeps himself, he just can’t move on from Greer. So many plans not realized. No children to fill their happy home. No grandchildren returning for holidays. All of that died with Greer. Or did it?

While surveying the wreckage surrounding her, Amelia is less than thrilled with her future prospects: “But, at thirty-five, in Palm Beach, I had a solid chance of becoming a fourth trophy wife. That was about the extent of my options.” Before she was let go from her magazine job, she was researching a piece on surrogates and IVF, and surreptitiously discovered a list on the desk of a fertility doctor’s office. It gave the names of people whose frozen embryos were deemed “abandoned,” and if not dealt with, they would be adopted out, donated to science or destroyed. Much to her surprise, Parker and Greer’s names were on that list. Did Parker even realize in his grief that these embryos even exist?

Knowing it’s a delicate subject and that she got this information through less-than-honest channels, Amelia decides to tell Parker on the off-chance that he’s unaware of the urgency. Several uncomfortable moments later, she realizes that Parker does indeed know about them but has no idea what to do. Having children with Greer was always his dream, but could that happen with her no longer there to experience it? Choosing to make a bold move, Parker decides to hire a surrogate who will carry the babies he always meant to have when his wife was alive. But is this a sign that he is moving toward a bright future, or securing an anchor to his past?

Amelia learned that she was infertile at 14, so children were never part of her plan with Thad. After reviewing prospective surrogates for Parker, she realizes that the only person right for this job is her: “This wasn’t the time to commit to something so monumental. But at the same time, I felt that tug that I had felt a lot lately, the one that meant I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to do something more with my life. Something important. Greer McCann had left behind this whole huge legacy when she died at thirty-two. What had I done? How had I made the world a better place?” So Amelia and Parker team up on this unconventional odyssey, much to the chagrin of their friends and family.

UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY is more than sweet Southern fiction --- it packs a punch and leads you in all sorts of unexpected directions. Much like her earlier novels, FEELS LIKE FALLING and the Peachtree Bluff series, Kristy Woodson Harvey deftly crafts a gratifying story that is more than a beach read. It makes you think, ruminate and reminisce, all while being transported to quaint southern towns full of quirky characters. The book will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Wingate, and will make you reconsider the fortifying bonds of family --- those you’re born into and those you create.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on April 23, 2021

Under the Southern Sky
by Kristy Woodson Harvey

  • Publication Date: April 20, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1982117729
  • ISBN-13: 9781982117726