In the way that I become aware of books to read (Amazon recommendations, daily deals offered by Book Bubs and Goodreads, regular emails from a variety of publishers), Temple Secrets by Susan Gabriel was somehow brought to my attention. My interest was captured because of my love affair with Savannah, GA, a city I have only once visited but that is the location of many books I choose to read. Think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Only don’t think Midnight when it comes to this book. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. The premise gave me great hope.
In this novel, the Temple family has been an influential part of Savannah’s history for generations. One of the reasons they keep their stature and influence is because going back as far as the Civil War, they have been keeping a written history of the indiscretions of the most well-known people of the city. Knowledge is power, as they say.
The book has been safely kept in a safe deposit box until suddenly, one-by-one, the secrets are being printed in the daily newspaper. No one knows who is responsible, because it certainly isn’t matriarch Iris Temple, the keeper of the book. Nor is it her half-sister Queenie, the daughter of one of Iris’ mother’s black housekeepers who has the same father as Iris. Queenie currently lives with Iris and cares for her. Nevertheless, Queenie, along with many others, becomes a suspect because it seems Miss Iris is an irascible, nasty woman with many enemies.
When Iris suddenly dies from a stroke, likely related to her concern over the release of the secrets, her estranged daughter Rose comes home from her ranch in Wyoming to bury her mother. She didn’t expect, however, to begin to see the family unravel as more and more secrets are revealed, some of which deeply affect those she loves.
Gabriel’s characters are interesting, and I rather enjoyed the descriptions of voodoo and Gullah magic. It just seemed that some of the situations were unbelievable and the characters, though interesting, didn’t seem realistic.
I would read another book by Gabriel as she writes primarily about the south which is my interest range. Still, it wasn’t the best book I’ve read about either Gullah magic or racial inequities.