The Beach Trees Transported Me To New Orleans
The Beach Trees by Karen White seems to be having an identity crisis. The book cannot seem to decide what sort of Southern novel it wants to be. While reading along one cannot help but feel The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and The Help conceived a baby and The Beach Trees is what popped out. That said, while I giggled over the sappy language and the author’s obvious manipulation of the reader’s feelings for each character introduced, I continued to read. Not for the plot (which only gets good three quarters of the way through and has holes like a package of Swiss cheese) or the characters (whose personalities are so bizarre and ill-constructed it’s hard to care) but because of the setting.
No one could accuse Ms. White of not understanding the modern American South. Her fluid descriptions of New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi make these places the most interesting characters in the book. While I’ve never visited either place, I found myself completely transported. I looked up words, events, and even shops mentioned. Her adoration for New Orleans leaks through the entire book, making even the most ridiculous passages about how a kiss makes a woman see jumping dolphins, seem romantic. Like perfume the places she describes infuse the entire narrative with life and charm. Though the main characters were unrealistic I can say this entire novel is worth the read just to experience the pure worship Ms. White pours over her beloved New Orleans.