Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7339-9
Contemporary Romance, 2003
On the bright side, while Karen White came off like a rabid redneck caricature given free rein to indulge her parochial in her previous effort Falling Home, she has restrained herself here. In After the Rain, Karen White’s Holy Righteous Fury of a Quivering Evangelist Tent is directed only at the transvestite-overrun corrupt and heinous people of Atlanta. Yes, Atlanta, the middle finger of the Confederate God is pointing at you and He is speaking through Karen White: “Repent, you sinners!”
Suzanne Paris is a career woman – a photographer – who, directed by a opossum about to be squashed by cars (don’t ask), steps down from her bus to come upon the small town of Redneck’s Arse, er, Walton. There, she encounters six kids of the mayor Joe Warner, and it’s love at first sight, down with feminism, motherhood is in, Atlanta must burn, and the Devil must be at work the day those evil Yankees win that goddamned war. Oh yes, don’t try to look too hard for the enemies of Joe, the mayor. Look under “Atlanta” and you’ll see “Villains! Cheating scumming materialistic villains!”
Suzanne is not a realistic character. She is merely a cipher, a tool for the author to preach about home, hearth, and how women emphasizing career instead of becoming child brides – well, these women will end up bitter, cold, and old. Joe is a cipher. He is the reward for women who embrace the “right” way to live – having a husband and six stepkids to chase after is all a woman needs to be happy in life. The people of Redneck’s Arse are creepy – they are violently hostile to outsiders and demanding to know Suzanne’s life story the moment she steps foot into town. Ms White thinks this is a good thing.
This book’s dialogues run gamut from Thomas Kinkade on crack to materials lifted from Greg Laurie’s speech collections. From the opossum to Suzanne’s premonition of God (she sees herself as a housewife holding a baby and is struck by the beauty of that premonition) to Joe telling his repentant teenage harlot daughter to reach inside as far as she can (not that way!) and come home when she feels more like a bug than a windscreen, this book is filled with very important and not at all subtle meaningful scenes I’m sure I’m supposed to digest and ponder over. Will I look good in a pair of thongs?
Of course, it is very easy to mock this book mercilessly, as Ms White really sets herself up for it with her overbearing evangelistic style of writing, but it is also quite depressing because the author really can write. Some of the few scenes here that are left uncluttered by contrived right-wing propaganda are quite lovely to read, such as Joe’s insecurities regarding his trying to raise his teenage kids right and proper. Unfortunately, Ms White is more intent on preaching than telling a story, and the unfortunate punchline is, her preaching really sucks and is laughable to boot. She won’t be winning converts, that’s for sure. Her book just comes off like crackpot material, making even those ghostwritten Thomas Kinkade books come off as subtle and elegant in comparison.
Now, can someone tell me what happened to the author who wrote two very readable paranormal books for LoveSpell?