Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Ballantine BooksAva Dabrowski is still mourning the death of her mother, reeling from the breakup with her married lover and disenchanted with her job. So when Will Fraser, an old college acquaintance, asks her one more time to visit him in Woodburn, Tennessee, she quits her job in Chicago and accepts even though she has some not too flattering preconceived notions of "The South". He lures her with the idea that she can stay with his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn, in the family home for the entire summer and finally work on that novel she keeps wanting to write.
Unfortunately, Ava seems to have a bad case of writer's block and she doesn't make too much progress on her book but she is fascinated by the Woodburn's family history as her own family history is sketchy at best and staying in one location was not one of her free-spirited mother's strengths. She is amazed that one family could live in a town named after them for so long and in the same house. To the Woodburns living in the South means no one is "crazy" just eccentric, manners are an ingrained way of life and knowledge of one's family tree is almost de riguer.
What seems like genteel family living turns out to have some deep buried secrets and dark undertones. After Ava starts hearing snippets of Will's Aunt Fanny and her first husband Charlie's past, the mystery of his death begins to intrigue her and her writer's block is at an end. It's almost as if the story writes itself; she spends night after night penning Charlie and Fanny's story at a frenzied pace even though she knows the Woodburns will be livid at any hint of exposure. They sure aren't willing to say too much about this time in their lives.