Paperback: 304 pages
Reviewed by Idrissa Uqdah
A Mother With Crosses To Bear
Although not categorized as Christian Fiction, Peony's Daughters by Leceila Turnage is a very spiritual read with scriptural references and a lesson to be learned. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Peony's family and her neighbors in McKinley, North Carolina who are all long-time members of Charity Chapel Church. The usual church drama was really funny and very true to life.
When her only sister passes away, the widowed Peony calls on her daughters; Violet, Daisy, Lily, Ivy and Jasmine, to come home to lay their single, childless and beloved Aunt Caroline to rest. Her daughters, always the flowers in Peony's life rush to her side bringing with them their emotional baggage and their own personal problems. But what they also bring is the love and the legacy of their Southern upbringing. This love proves to be just what their mother needs.
This book was a quick read. Though labeled Urban Fiction; the story was a refreshing retreat from the gritty violence, illicit sex and tragedy readers have come to expect in urban fiction. This is a clean read.
Peony's daughters are well thought of back home in McKinley. Of the five Shaw sisters; three are college educated women. Lilly Shaw-Davenport is the program manager for the Child Welfare Division of the County's Social Service Division in Charlotte. At forty-nine Lilly has it all; brains, beauty, a lovely home, a luxury car with money in the bank. She was also blessed with an adoring husband and three smart, healthy children. Unfortunately; Lilly is also full of herself and everyone but Lilly knows it. She rules the family with an iron hand, when her mother allows her.
Ivy is an attorney in private practice in Durham and weeks away from marrying her fiance, a superior court judge from a prominent African American family. Violet is a librarian back home whose house mysteriously has burned down. Single, she is now living with her mother while she decides to re-build. Daisy, the oldest is a registered nurse at Walter Reed Medical Center, married with adult children and Jasmine, the youngest is a single, unemployed mother of two.
Each sister brings her own brand of both humor and drama to the situation as they move back into the house where they were raised. Their parents brought them up in Charity Chapel Church and were pillars of the small-town community. As they gather at the old homestead, sibling rivalries flare and Mama Peony doesn't hesitate to stand up to their foolishness. Determined to have a drama-free home-going for her beloved sister, Peony has her hands full. Coming back home isn't easy for the girls, either.
I laughed at their petty disagreements, their personality clashes and their impatience with dealing with their past lives but I also rallied with them as their actions proved that family will always be family and unconditional love is what has brought them to where they are in life now.
Readers interested in a good, old-fashioned tale of what things used to be like when life was simple, humble and full of love will enjoy this novel.