Readers in the mood for a modern story with a few ghosts thrown in for good measure should pick up Charleston Green by Stephanie Alexander. Alexander’s first published book is The Cracked Slipper which created quite a stir. She has continued to write for magazines, been a ghost writer, and enjoys joining book clubs for a discussion of her books with the members.
Alexander is quite accomplished, earning a bachelor of arts from the College f Charleston, SC. She completed a master’s in sociology from the American University in DC. After being a stay-at-home mom with her three children, Alexander returned to earn a degree in law. Alexander maintains a robust website: http://stephaniealexanderbooks.com/.
Charleston Green features Tiffany, Tipsy, Collins, a newly divorced mother of three, artist, and clairvoyant. Tipsy divorces her husband because of his controlling behavior and having to walk on eggshells around him all the time. She decides that having their children in such an environment is not healthy.
Tipsy endures a lot of criticism from her mother-in-law in particular. Ayers Collins, Tipsy’s now ex-husband, also expects Tipsy to return to him. He says as much to the children behind Tipsy’s back until she confronts him about what he says to the children is harmful.
Until she can figure out a more permanent home, Tipsy and the children move into Miss Callie’s old home, now owned by Tipsy’s former brother-in-law. He plans to renovate the home and sell it, but he is allowing Tipsy and the children to live there until Tipsy can sort out her life.
As Tipsy is moving her things into Miss Callie’s home, still replete with Miss Callie’s furnishings, Tipsy meets Jane a ghost who died in the home in 1929. Tipsy learns that Jane is certain Henry, Jane’s husband, killed her and then killed himself. Soon, Tipsy meets Henry who says he could not possibly have killed Jane because he loved her.
Tipsy finds herself caught up in the story of Jane and Henry’s tumultuous marriage and she feels determined to figure out what really happened that Jane and Henry both died of gunshot wounds with most people of the day accusing Henry of the murder-suicide.
Besides contending with ghosts, Tipsy must also continue to battle Ayers over custody of the children. When Ayers hires a PI to shadow Tipsy, Tipsy feels betrayed. Too, the PI takes pictures of Tipsy apparently talking to herself in the cemetery. Of course, readers know she has found another ghost, but she fears Ayers will use the photos against her to take the children into his full custody.
As the story unfolds, readers become concerned about Tipsy’s health because some encounters with the Jane and Henry in Miss Callie’s home leave Tipsy exhausted almost catatonic for a period after the encounters. Tipsy also meets Will and the begin dating. Ayers also tries to use that new relationship to prove that Tipsy is unfit to care for the children.
I felt sure I knew who had actually killed both Jane and Henry and made the scene look like a murder/suicide. I was wrong! That is the sign of a good story since the author gives clues and I put them together incorrectly. I like the surprise of “whodunit.” And in 1929, not many police detectives would have pursued the case since Jane and Henry were known to have a volatile relationship.
For those who like a good ghost story mixed with a modern-day family story, Charleston Green will fit the bill.