A Light On The Veranda
by Ciji Ware, contemporary (2001)
Ivy, $6.99, ISBN 0-449-15029-1

I've read so much about this author, hence I have so much expectations for her new one, A Light On The Veranda. Well, this one has music and it has photography, and I love how the author uses harp music and the beauty of light to create an eerie, haunting atmosphere. But no amount of haunting music and slow-mo posturing can hide that this story is essentially a soap opera with some of the worst female characters I've read scratching each other's eyes out.

The upbeat first chapter is deceptive, for the story takes on a much somber, darker tone after that. Daphne Duvallon left her cheating hubby-to-be at the altar, and her mother never forgave her for that. Daphne's idea of retaliation is not by moving to another state, but to rub her mother's old history of infidelity at dear Momma's face. Nice.

She goes to Natchez to play her harp at her sister's wedding. This move costs her her job, but hey, never mind. Family comes first. And soon after she meets world-class photographer Simon Hopkins, whom she immediately starts being snippy to (classic sign of instant lust, yes?), she starts encountering ghostly harps that play by itself and dreams of her ancestor (also named Daphne) playing happy music with a guy also named Simon. Spooky.

If that's not enough, Daphne's jilted guy Jack is not letting Daph get away so easily. It's bad enough he's a stalker, but the author has to give this guy some sick fetish about women's breasts. It's not pretty reading.

Ms Ware tries valiantly to pad this story with lots of atmosphere, and in this, she succeeds. But Simon and Daphne's relationship is stillborn: there is no convincing relationship development, heck, there is even so little space devoted to them. Most of the time the scenes of this story are devoted to Daph's dream and attempt to solve her ancestor's mystery. That and her sniping with unpleasant relatives, who, strangely enough, are mostly female. Meeeooow. Daph's mother, by the way, is described as two-thirds senile. And there's even a catfight for sick Jack. Now I have read it all.

If there is A Light On The Veranda, it's probably a signal for "Proceed with caution: soap operatic melodrama abound".

Rating: 66

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