Since last weekend, I have been reading The Book of Beloved by Carolyn Haines. I requested this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. It is the first book in Haines’ newest series, Pluto’s Snitch.
The story begins in Savannah, Georgia, with a young female school teacher, Raissa James, who lost her husband a few years previously in World War I. She accepts an invitation from her uncle to visit his mansion, Caoin House, outside of Mobile, Alabama. During her visit
she meets many around the estate, living and dead. She unravels the mysteries surrounding previous owners of the estate and how these secrets are still influencing those currently living in 1930s Mobile.
After reading numerous positive reviews about this novel online, I was excited to start on it. It’s a mystery and historical fiction, two of the genres I love most. While The Book of Beloved certainly did not disappoint, there were some things that could’ve been better. The main character’s reaction to seeing ghosts for the first time lacked verisimilitude, causing the beginning of the story to fall flat. Also, from the beginning I felt I knew who the villain was going to be.
There were also some historical inaccuracies that could’ve been fixed with a quick Google search. One example is the claim that women were still fighting for the right to vote in 1930, when in fact, the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920. The author also touches on social issues, such as women’s place in society along with Civil Rights for African Americans and acceptance of homosexuals. While it’s great that she touches on these things, it’s done from a modern woman’s perspective. Societies view each of these topics has progressed greatly since the 1930s, and it’s unlikely that most people at that time would have our current views.
While there were obvious problems, I was still kept on the edge of my seat throughout the story. The twists and turns were fantastic, always keeping me guessing. I even had a few “Oh shit!” moments. There was also humor that I never anticipated. This series will certainly be one to follow, and I will also look up other books by this author. The Book of Beloved was a fun and easy read deserving of it’s good reviews!