In the tradition of Anne Rivers Siddons and Pat Conroy comes this sensual, beautifully written novel of the South, about a world on the verge of change and the secrets it fears will be revealed
When you enter the town of Fawley, you take a step back to a simpler time, back to when neighbors shared potluck dinners, church socials were the only parties decent people attended, and people knew who they were and what they valued—and didn’t tolerate outsiders who tried to change things.
It is into this closed but nonetheless appealing community that Danny Crane brings his new wife, Lydia. They met at Myrtle Beach, where they spent a week in the rush and confusion of falling in love. The relationship that ensued startled them both, and the fact that they married six months later was equally disorienting. It was an act of passionate conviction and blind faith.
From the outset, Lydia finds Fawley to be different from the exclusive and privileged environment in which she was raised, secure in both “name” and “position” in her family’s stately home in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. But gradually Lydia comes to realize that few things in Fawley are as they seem, for behind the serenity and the clean-scrubbed façades, there exists a tradition of suspicion and anger, of hostility toward outsiders and fear of change of any kind.
Even more disturbing is her realization that Danny, too, is not what he had seemed—that beneath the easy charm lies a darkness borne of distrust and deception, and of secrets too closely kept. In a struggle to hold on to the marriage she continues to believe in, Lydia is forced to confront the forces that have shaped her husband—the town of Fawley itself, and Danny’s family, most especially his cousin Kyle, whose personal magnetism even Lydia has to acknowledge, but whose hold on those around him becomes more and more destructive. Filled with the heat generated by passions too long suppressed and secrets too long kept buried, Close to Home is both a sensual and a literary gem.
Dark secrets, violent deaths and racial and sexual tension pervade Hall's new novel, both a Southern gothic and character study of a strong-willed woman who comes to understand her vulnerabilities. When Lydia Hunt, daughter of a prestigious Washington, D.C., clan, breaks her engagement to her appropriate fiance and precipitously marries Danny Crane, scion of a socially inferior family, her parents and her friends are horrified. Readers, too, realize that nothing good can come of this hasty union between two people who know too little about each other. Lydia attempts to bond with the Cranes of Fawley, a run-down rural Virginia community, but their lives are built upon a foundation of secrets that has turned them all into emotional or physical cripples. Although Danny is the family's golden boy (as opposed to his cousin Kyle, the "no-good black sheep"), he actually has little control over his life because of an accident that took place long ago. In fact, "bizarre accidents seemed to visit this family as regularly as the Avon lady." Hall (A Better Place) conveys the atmosphere of an inbred community where social boundaries are set in stone and outsiders are not welcome. The opening of a mega-store in the community exposes and exacerbates racial tensions and hypocrisies and results in two murders. Meanwhile, one member of the Crane family gets meaner and more sinister; others become more eccentric and unhappy. Yet Hall sustains interest in Lydia's struggles to understand herself and her husband, and she eventually achieves a bittersweet clarity.