Review: A Better Place, by Barbara Hall

About the book A Better Place A Better Place

Print Length: 270 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media (July 1, 2014)

A Southern novel in the tradition of Anne Tyler and Anne Rivers Siddons, A Better Place marks the adult fiction debut of one of television’s most successful and creative writers

In an attempt to discover why her life hasn’t worked out the way she had hoped it would, Valerie Caldwell returns to the Southern town she left twelve years earlier to visit her old haunts and two friends from her school days, Tess and Mary Grace—much to their alarm and chagrin.

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About the author, Barbara Hall Barbara Hall

To TV audiences she may be better known as a four-time Emmy-nominated writer and producer (Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy) and the co-Executive Producer of Homeland, but to avid readers she’s a novelist with 11 published works whose imagination has been honored by numerous institutions, including the American Library Association in both their Best Books and Notable Books categories.

An accomplished author, Hall wrote three young adult novels including: Skeeball and the Secret of the Universe, Dixie Storms and Fool’s Hill, as well as the mystery House Across the Cove. Her other novels include A Better Place, Close to Home and A Summons to New Orleans.

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My Thoughts

From time to time, I get invitations from NetGalley to review books, and from time to time I take them up on the offer. After all, free books are never bad.

Anyway, I finished reading this book today, while fighting a migraine, completely convinced it was something I committed to for one of the blog tour sponsors I work with, only to realize it actually wasn’t, which is good, since I’m writing this review at ten pm.

I loved the book! It’s author Barbara Hall’s first foray out of YA and into contemporary adult literature (according to what I read in Publisher’s Weekly, and it’s the perfect novel for a lazy summer’s day. The characters are the kinds of southern women you expect to find in a small town, and their dialogue never felt at all unreal.

Likewise the theme of the novel – the romanticizing of home and youth – is a universal one, and one that I, at an age significantly older than the characters in this novel, am still prone to engage in.

But there’s another theme, one the main character Valerie brings up about a third of the way into the book: Everyone wants their life to have a story.

It was that thought that really made the rest of the novel sing for me, because I think it’s completely true.

Comparisons to Anne Rivers Siddons are actually pretty spot on, in tone if not in detail, and I look forward to more of Halls work in this genre, though I’ve never been opposed to reading YA even though the Y part still applies to me.

Goes well with Sweet tea and chicken salad.