Kristy Woodson Harvey’s new novel, Feels Like Falling (Gallery Books), is a perfect escape into a glittering seaside town on the North Carolina coast, complete with a sweep of dazzling sand, ritzy beach clubs and the kind of friendships that make a story good fun. But this is no ordinary beach read of sunsets, cocktails and characters on vacation. As usual, Harvey brings the expected to the table, and then so much more.
“Life has other plans.”
This is one of the many compelling lines that frame the story. Life does, in fact, have other plans as we watch Gray Howard and Diana Harrington, the novel’s two protagonists, grapple with life’s curveballs. Gray is an entrepreneur who seems to have it all — wealth, beauty and a successful business — but unbeknownst to her acquaintances and friends, she’s just lost everything that really counts. Her ex-husband has married his assistant, and they’re both headed out of town on a European vacation — with Gray’s son.
But Gray keeps her cool. She’s an accomplished businesswoman and a society belle in coastal North Carolina, after all, and she has a reputation to uphold. When summer rolls around, Gray must face the crowds of her beach club. She actively dodges the society who is all too happy to betray her. She can hardly stomach the gossipy women who take too much delight in the demise of her marriage, and she suddenly finds herself seeking refuge in those she’d never expect.
Enter Diana, the protagonist from “the other side of the tracks.” She’s a middle-aged beauty with rough edges, carrying more than her fair share of past trauma, not the least of which is a gambling boyfriend, an alcoholic mother and a lost childhood. When she meets Gray, she thinks she has this rich, blond, privileged woman figured out. It’s only fair. Despite Gray’s problems, she can’t begin to understand what Diana has suffered, and it’s not Diana’s job to school this spoiled woman, who has it all, on the real ways of the world. Diana just needs a job so she can finally move out of her car and into an apartment.
Yet as the two unlikely friends from very different walks of life find a common thread, they become tied together for better or worse. They soon learn the definition of family isn’t what they had expected — friends are the family they choose, or choose them. And things rarely end up the way we imagine them. Often, that’s for the better.
In Feels Like Falling, Kristy Woodson Harvey brings her full talents to the fore with her intuitive storytelling and well-drawn characters. Her latest novel tugs at the heartstrings, and injects the summer book category with a welcome freshness and emotional veracity — an utter delight in these times. Readers will not be disappointed. Highly recommended!