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Fiction Review   



Sweet Vidalia
by Rebecca Pace Watkins
Southern Exposure Publishing, 2004
Trade paper, $17.67 (334 pages)
e-book, $6.25
ISBN: 1-4116-1964-1
  The title is slightly misleading. The story within has nothing to do with the Sweet Vidalia Onion or the region of Georgia where the soil composition makes it unique. However, Sweet Vidalia is definitely worth a cozy reading day where you can allow yourself the time to enjoy the story in one-sitting.

Bringing to mind the works of William Faulkner, especially The Long, Hot Summer (from The Hamlet), Sweet Vidalia takes place in August when Vidalia Lawson returns to her small town of Sweetbriar, Georgia, to celebrate her grandmother's 100th birthday.

Unwed and pregnant, Vidalia left her North Georgia town eighteen years ago to escape the wrath of her father, an abusive and self-righteous preacher. Her return awakens forgotten secrets for the community, but at the same time her return brings healing for all -- especially Vidalia. Emotions run strong as stories of star-crossed lovers and forbidden love come to light.

Classic southern characters abound: the wise and feisty grandmother; the town mute; the hell-raising preacher; the gay young man; the beautiful dying girl; and the single mother trying to escape a history of lies. And let us not forget the first religion of the South -- football.

If you try to create a family tree of the main characters, be sure to use pencil, cause the bloodlines change as secrets are exposed.

As a self-published novel, Sweet Vidalia is a rough diamond. The storytelling is excellent Southern Gothic, but the work is filled with typos that a good editor would capture in the first reading. I hope the author will hire an editor, then try to give this novel new life through the traditional publishing route.


Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews


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