Synopses & Reviews
A gifted writer makes her fiction debut with this lyrical and haunting story of missed chances and enduring love, set against the backdrop of high society Charleston, which asks the eternal question: can we ever truly go home again?
When Eliza Poinsett left the elegant world of Charleston for college, she never expected it would take her ten years to return. Now she is an art historian in London with a charming Etonian boyfriend who adores her. But the past catches up with her when she runs into Henry, a former boyfriend from Charleston, at a wedding in the English countryside.
Already unnerved by the earlier encounter, Eliza's carefully guarded equilibrium is shattered when she meets Henry again in Charleston, where she's come for her stepsister's debut, a decade after she first left. Set against a backdrop of stately homes, the seductive Lowcountry landscape, and the entangled lives of families who trace their ancestors back for generations, Charleston hinges on Eliza's difficult choice: must she risk everything for which she has worked so hard to be with the only man she has ever truly loved?
Charleston is an evocative, melancholy novel about one woman's love — for both a man and an unforgettable city. Emotionally resonant, beguiling in its atmosphere, it illuminates the elusive notion of home, and explores whether we can ever truly go back to the place — and the people — that indelibly shaped us.
"In this fiction debut, Thornton isn't successful in an account of a woman's return home and attempt to recapture a lost love. Set in 1990, Eliza Poinsett, a London art historian, starts the book off by musing about the chance occurrences that brought her old flame Henry Heyward back into her life after years apart, causing her to wonder what to do about her current boyfriend and to wonder whether Fate 'had its arms wrapped so tightly around her that it would never let her go.' Eliza meets Henry again at a wedding in England after 10 years apart, but the plot follows a predictable arc; Eliza returns home to Charleston, SC, where she finds that while 'she had lost part of herself... now it was coming back to her.' She and Henry, a newspaper publisher, reconnect, as she finds herself more and more drawn to the one who got away, despite the presence of another man. Readers putting a premium on subtlety and originality will be disappointed. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“In the tradition of great Southern novels, this lyrical tale explores the emotional terrain of love, loss, and memory. It's about the tug of a person and of a place, leading us to confront what it means to look homeward again.” Walter Isaacson, author of, most recently, Steve Jobs
"Margaret Thornton, in this beautiful novel, immerses us in a world, Charleston, a place both charmed and vexed by its many-layered history. Eliza's short, sharp season of happiness forms a complete love story — lush, bittersweet, and dear.” Ron Carlson
"Charleston is a novel of enormous southern charm and a deep, sweet wisdom. As Thornton so beautifully puts it, it is ‘only okay to look for what was lost if you were prepared to find something unexpected.'" Anna Funder
About the Author
Margaret Bradham Thornton is the editor of Tennessee Williams's Notebooks, for which she received the Bronze ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award for Autobiography/Memoir and the C. Hugh Holman Prize for the best volume of southern literary scholarship, given by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. She is a native of Charleston, a graduate of Princeton University, and currently resides in Palm Beach, Florida.