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Under the Southern Sky
Table of Contents
About The Book
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
One of Country Living’s 20 New Books You Don’t Want to Miss This Spring
One of Bookstr’s 8 Most Anticipated Reads of 2021
One of Frolic’s 12 Most Anticipated Books of 2021
One of BookTrib’s Most-Anticipated Reads of 2021
One of Brit + Co’s Books You Should Read with Your BFF
Two childhood friends discover that love—and family—can be found in unconventional ways in this timely, moving novel from the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “beautifully Southern, evocative Peachtree Bluff series” (Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Winemaker’s Wife).
Recently separated Amelia Saxton, a dedicated journalist, never expected that uncovering the biggest story of her career would become deeply personal. But when she discovers that a cluster of embryos belonging to her childhood friend Parker and his late wife Greer have been deemed “abandoned,” she’s put in the unenviable position of telling Parker—and dredging up old wounds in the process.
Parker has been unable to move forward since the loss of his beloved wife three years ago. He has all but forgotten about the frozen embryos, but once Amelia reveals her discovery, he knows that if he ever wants to get a part of Greer back, he’ll need to accept his fate as a single father and find a surrogate.
Each dealing with their own private griefs, Parker and Amelia slowly begin to find solace in one another as they navigate an uncertain future against the backdrop of the pristine waters of their childhood home, Cape Carolina. The journey of self-discovery leads them to an unforgettable and life-changing lesson: Family—the one you’re born into and the one you choose—is always closer than you think.
From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Under the Southern Sky is a fresh and unforgettable exploration of love, friendship, and the unbreakable ties that bind.
I FOUND OUT MY MARRIAGE was over the day my “Modern Love” piece appeared in the New York Times. The Modern Love piece about my thoroughly modern love with my husband, Thad, about our decision not to have children, about how we were choosing travel and wanderlust instead, living life on our own terms.
Little did I know that he was really living life on his own terms. While I was going to work every morning and he was “writing his first novel” in the dated downtown Palm Beach apartment that his octogenarian grandmother rented to us for next to nothing, he was actually playing house with a CrossFit obsessed god named Chase. In fact, when I ran home from work to show Thad my piece at nine that morning, it wasn’t Thad I found on the wood-framed yellow couch in our living room. It was Chase. I knew him because he was a hairdresser. My hairdresser. But I had never seen him quite like this: his neon green boxer briefs accenting his spray-tanned abs—both of which clashed horribly with the sofa, I might add—sitting nonchalantly under the portrait of Thad’s grandmother. She smirked inside her gilded frame, hair in a bouffant, choker pearls tight around her neck, earlobes dripping with rhinestones. It didn’t take long for me to put the pieces together.
I dropped the newspaper, the pages falling through the air in slow motion.
I wondered if Chase had bathed in the pink tub in the tiny master bath, if he had watched soap drip off his toes against the green tiles with hand-painted daisies, chipped and faded with age. I wondered if he had drunk vodka out of our crystal glasses, the ones I was certain were of a vintage that potentially contained lead and that, every now and then, I was positive were poisoning me.
As the last page drifted to the floor, I realized I had just written my love story for the entire world to read. And now it was over.
A baffled, wet-haired Thad emerged from the pink-and-green bathroom, a floral-print towel wrapped around his waist, and explained that I never came back home once I left for work, as though I were somehow in the wrong for discovering his affair. Lie to me. I promise I’ll believe you, I thought. But he didn’t. Instead, he tossed out the idea of the three of us—Thad, Chase, and me—living together. Ironically, our love was not that modern.
When people would console me later about the divorce, they would say, “Well, at least you split up before you had children.” I didn’t include in the column that I’d abandoned the idea of motherhood when I found out I was infertile at age fourteen. And I definitely left out the part about how the egregious number of baby showers I had attended over the past several years had made me curious about what it was like to feel flutter kicks in your belly. It had made me wonder what it might be like to take part in a rite of passage that was as normal to my friends as getting our first training bras or learning to drive a stick shift.
Their words made me realize how alone I felt, how I had made a decision to never let anyone into my life who would love me unconditionally, or, maybe more important, that I would love unconditionally. People always think being loved will change them. But that’s not true. It’s really, truly loving—with the kind of love you couldn’t take away even if you wanted to—that turns you inside out.
Cold panic washed over me. I felt myself back against the wall and slide down it until I was on the floor, the last page of newspaper crumpled in my hand. That paper was the only thing keeping me tethered to earth. As it always did when I felt like I was losing control, my recurring nightmare flashed through my mind. In it, Daddy is washing his old Cadillac in the gravel driveway of Dogwood, the sprawling waterfront home that has been in my family since before the Revolution. My father is a small farmer, and, well, the family money has all but run out. They could sell the valuable property, make a nice life for themselves somewhere else. But then, my mother argued, where would that leave Aunt Tilley?
Daddy’s nearly vintage Cadillac is dripping wet, and he is wearing one of those infomercial shammy gloves, rubbing soap circles on the car’s body.
The house starts off in good shape, like it is in real life, largely because Daddy, my brother, Robby, and I can fix absolutely anything. I could paint trim better than any professional by the time I was twelve years old. Robby can fix a refrigerator, rewire a car, splice cable, anything you need. Even still, as a child I always had the feeling that the grand home filled with heirlooms—the mahogany dinner table where Washington once carved his initials, the gilded china, the monogrammed sterling silver—was falling in around us. The fading opulence seemed incongruous with the too-small dresses I was squeezing into for the third year in a row.
As Daddy washes his car in the driveway, Aunt Tilley walks out on the porch in one of her Victorian getups, complete with corset and parasol, which she took to wearing after she lost her mind, before I was even born.
Only, when I look up, it isn’t Aunt Tilley who is residing in the east wing now. It’s me. Old, alone, and crazy as a bat, with my beloved family home falling down around me. And Trina, my sister-in-law, is calling, “Amelia, darling.” That’s when I wake up, sweaty and cold.
Some people dream about losing their teeth. I dream about losing Dogwood.
I never told Thad about the nightmare. Now I was glad I hadn’t. Because, it seemed, I was destined to become the spinster aunt in the attic, the subject of many a good Southern cautionary tale. Just like my poor, dear aunt Tilley. She was a little unhinged, but she was still my favorite.
No! I scolded myself. I was not Aunt Tilley. I was Amelia Saxton, investigative reporter, award-winning journalist, seeker of truth and lover of righteousness. I tried to convince myself, as I walked out the door, completely unable to hear what Thad was saying as he ran after me, that this was better. This facilitated my life plan: Rise to the top of my game as a journalist. Check. Become executive editor. Check. Become managing editor. Check. Next stop: editor in chief. My husband, Thad, was an anchor around my neck. Of course, true love had also been a part of my life plan. That was when the tears began. He had been the one my heart searched for. He had been the one that changed everything. The thought split me in two: How will I live without him?
But I was a girl who had grown up huddling by the cast-iron radiator in my too-big room when we didn’t have enough money for the heat bill. I was a teenager who had replastered living room ceilings after a storm caused them to cave in. I was a woman who had discovered pay inequities in local manufacturing and exposed that the largest business owner in town was preventing women from exercising their legal right to pump breast milk at work. I was a warrior. I always had been. The dissolution of my marriage was nothing more than a bump in the road.
No use crying over what could have been, I reassured myself as I wiped my eyes, stood up straighter, cleared my throat, and dug around for my concealer. Modern Love, take two, equaled solitude. It equaled throwing myself into work. My writing had always been my only real safe place. By getting lost in someone else’s story, I could blissfully forget my own, at least for a little while.
And the interview I had scheduled that morning would lead to a story that I felt in the marrow of my bones would be groundbreaking. It had taken me months to get this interview in the first place, and I knew I could never reschedule, despite the fact that my entire life had just gone up in flames. Even as sure as I felt, though, I couldn’t have predicted how important that one interview would turn out to be.
But life is like that. Sometimes the nothing moments are everything.
- Publisher: Gallery Books (April 20, 2021)
- Length: 400 pages
- ISBN13: 9781982117726
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Raves and Reviews
Praise for UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKY
"Harvey (Feels Like Falling) delivers a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss in this tearjerker...Harvey brings her characters to life, including Greer, whose heartbreaking journal entries imagine the family she and Parker would have. These passages are particularly wrenching, making the book’s happy ending all the more moving. Fans of women’s fiction will devour this.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Pack your beach bag, Harvey’s back with another delightful story of the magic of southern coastal towns…As with Mary Kay Andrews or Patti Callahan Henry, Harvey spins romance around well-drawn characters, complete with strengths and weaknesses, and always mindful of the beauty that comes from living in the modern South.”—Booklist
“Sometimes the key to new love lies hidden in old friendships. In Under the Southern Sky, Kristy Woodson Harvey stirs up a warm-hearted mix of hometown charm and the sort of thoroughly modern problems that bring us back to the people who know us best and the places that remind us of who we really are.”—Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends
“Perfect for: fans of beach reads, P.S. I Love You, and anything by authors Jennifer Weiner and Elin Hilderbrand. A perfect pick for book clubs or a weekend read, Under the Southern Sky follows journalist Amelia as she makes a heart-wrenching discovery that changes everything.”—Country Living
"Under the Southern Sky is more than sweet Southern fiction—it packs a punch and leads you in all sorts of unexpected directions...a gratifying story that is more than a beach read. It makes you think, ruminate and reminisce, all while being transported to quaint southern towns full of quirky characters. The book will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Wingate, and will make you reconsider the fortifying bonds of family—those you’re born into and those you create.”—First for Women
"I've always been a Kristy Woodson Harvey fan, but she has taken things to a whole new level with Under the Southern Sky, her best novel yet. I laughed, sobbed, and gasped at the story's clever twists and turns; I couldn't flip the pages fast enough to see how Amelia's and Parker's story turned out. You'll need plenty of tissues—and maybe some of Cape Carolina's beloved bourbon-spiked sweet tea—to make it to the end. Deliciously plotted, intricately constructed, gorgeously written, and brimming with hope, Under the Southern Sky will steal your heart and make you think about first loves, second chances, and the unforeseeable twists of fate that guide us all."—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
"There's something about Woodson Harvey's writing that just feels as calming as sipping sweet tea on a warm summer night."—E! Online
"Harvey delivers a fresh and unforgettable portrait of modern parenthood and the thoroughly traditional ways that love continues to conquer all."—Booktrib
"I adore Kristy Woodson Harvey’s writing style—and topics! I always know that I’m getting an immersive, well-written, visually transporting book when I open one of Kristy’s and this is one of her best. And that’s saying a lot!"—Zibby Owens, Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books
“This is a character-driven (…) romance with a lot of introspection. Recommend to readers of Mary Kay Andrews and Susan Mallery.”—Library Journal
“Emotionally charged with despair and loss, two childhood friends unite in their pain. As time passes, they confront the binds that tie them to their families and each other accepting what is and what can be.”—New York Journal of Books
“In Under The Southern Sky, Kristy Woodson Harvey has created a genuine work of heart. One full of sunshine. And be prepared for Aunt Tilley. She’ll dance off the page and forever take up space in your soul.”—Kristy Barrett, A Novel Bee
“This is the book that will land her [Kristy Woodson Harvey] a screenwriting deal and solidify her presence not just on the Southern literary scene, but on the shelves of women’s fiction lovers across the globe; it is a truly good read…There is such depth of characters and plot on display; Cape Carolina comes alive in this novel.”—Salisbury Post
“Put Under the Southern Sky, the latest novel by North Carolina’s rising star Kristy Woodson Harvey, on your reading list, right at the top...Harvey’s stories are always entertaining and captivating, with believable and sympathetic characters. One of the qualities that makes her books stand out is sheer writing talent…Harvey knows what she’s doing…She’s a pro, with good stories told well.”—Greensboro News & Record
Praise for FEELS LIKE FALLING
"Two women in turmoil, two lives at a crossroads. Only Kristy Woodson Harvey can make sense of the sometimes devastating, often-times delicious dilemmas faced by the protagonists of her newest perfect beach read FEELS LIKE FALLING. Readers will fall in love with entrepreneur Gray, whose husband’s betrayal leaves her feeling adrift and looking for something beyond career success, while plucky down-and-out Diana will win the hearts of those of us who always root for the underdog. Buckle up, buttercups, because FEELS LIKE FALLING feels like your next summer sizzler!" —Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Sunset Beach, The High Tide Club, and The Weekenders
"Kristy Woodson Harvey has the voice of a best friend; a storyteller of the finest sort. Feels Like Falling takes us on a page-turning journey with two very different women who must somehow find their way together. Harvey asks the important question — how do we let go of the preconceived notions of our life ? And she answers that question with lyrical prose, an uncommon wisdom and a sharp wit. This is more than a novel about friendship, it is also a story for friendship: you will find yourself sharing it with everyone you love. Dive in; the storytelling is delicious!" —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times Bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis
“Harvey creates genuine, capable, flawed protagonists and fun secondary characters, and readers will appreciate the thoughtful depiction of women supporting one another in an easy, breezy story. Fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe should add this to their beach read lists.” —Booklist
“In pitch-perfect tones, Harvey creates two Southern women doing their best to deal with everything life throws at them, and her able plotting will keep readers turning the pages…Harvey’s optimistic tale just might convince readers that bouncing back can actually land a person in a better place than where they started.” —Publishers Weekly
PRAISE FOR KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY
“A major new voice in southern fiction.” —Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author
“[A] rising star of southern fiction.” —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author
“Kristy Woodson Harvey really knows how to tell a southern tale.” —Cathy Lamb, New York Times bestselling author
“One of the hottest new southern writers.” —Parade
“My prediction is that writers come and writers go, but Kristy Woodson Harvey is here to stay.” —The Huffington Post
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- Book Cover Image (jpg): Under the Southern Sky Trade Paperback 9781982117726
- Author Photo (jpg): Kristy Woodson Harvey Photograph by Bud Johnson(0.1 MB)
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