Close to Home
by Barbara Hall

Simon & Schuster: 1997
$23.00, 324 pp.

Review by Harriet Klausner

Lydia, a Virginia high society lady with old world money, has always behaved the way her parents expected her to act. She even gets engaged to a fellow blue-blood because his aristocratic bloodlines would satisfy her family. On vacation in Myrtle Beach, she meets Danny Crane, a middle class fellow from a backwater town. Shockingly, Lydia falls in love with Danny. She gives up everything she knows (including her family) in order to marry Danny and moves to his hometown of Fawley, Virginia. To Lydia, the town feels like it was trapped in a 1950's time warp.

At first Lydia is a town watcher, observing the undercurrents bubbling below the surface and the secrets that are part of the Crane legacy. Though Lydia seems to be a peacock amidst a flock of sparrows, she does not mind being different because she is secure both in the love of her spouse and her belief that she is fulfilling her destiny. However, when events of the past begin to affect Danny's behavior in the present, Lydia begins to look closer at the townsfolk, especially her husband's sociopathic cousin. Once she understands the hold that Cousin Kyle has on Danny and, therefore, on her, she knows she must reevaluate her marriage and how much she can afford to give up in the name of love.

Close to Home is an insightful look into the choices people make and how far they are willing to go to protect a family member. Ultimately, the novel boils down to choosing between bloodlines or marital ties. Barbara Hall has written an absorbing book, one that entertains even as it provokes its audience into questioning some uncomfortable moral issues. The gothic like atmosphere that engulfs the town adds a colorful dimension to this compelling tale and turns it into a rewarding and enriching experience. Fans of Anne River Seddons and Belva Plain will want to read this novel as soon as it hits the stores.

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