The Cold Penguin

expanding the box

Book Review: Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt

on March 5, 2014

So to pull a little into my blog topic, I started reading this book as part of a book club.  I intended on going to the meeting, but I didn’t finish the book in time, so I did not attend.  Hopefully I will go for the next book!

On to the book review.  I actually enjoy reading and tend to go through books fairly quickly.  But this book took me a long time to get through.  I was very excited when I started reading the book to realize the characters are based in my hometown of Charlotte, NC.  I love books that are based in my little city!  I don’t know why, but I get a kick out of it!  But after Chapter 1, I actually stopped reading it and went onto another book because I had lost interest.  After I finished the other book, I did go back to Lookaway, Lookaway.  Since I purchased it, I needed to power through and finish it.

The book covers the lives of the Johnston/Jarvis family, a prominent old-money family from Charlotte, NC.  Each chapter is the back story of a family member from their point of view as well as current story and progression from their point of view.  The family consists of the matriarch, a grandmother, her son, her two daughters and 1 son-in-law, 3 grandchildren a daughter-in-law and a family friend.  Some chapters I really enjoyed, while others I had to fight through.

The book dealt a lot with history, particularly the Civil War.  The son-in-law, “Duke” Johnston, is a descendant of Civil War heroes and a collector of all things Civil War.  I am not a history fan.  So the pages after pages of Civil War history, Civil War banter and Civil War reenactments really were a bit of a snooze fest for me.

The family also had been through a lot of negative, really horrible situations and were referred to often in the book.  It was heartbreaking to see what these people went through.  While you feel compassion for some characters, and anger towards others, it is usually a negative emotion being drawn out.  There were few laughs and many cries.

All in all the book is very well written, but a very sad story.  I’m glad I read it, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to a friend unless I knew they loved sad tales.


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