Karen White is one of the more prolific authors whose books I read. I have found some to be really good and some to be not so good. Flight Patterns was not only really good, I think it might have been the best that I have read to date.
First of all, it incorporates beekeeping into the storyline. And since members of our family have taken up beekeeping (read this post), it is a topic of utmost interest to me. White begins each chapter with a fact about bees, and I found that in and of itself very interesting and fun. Though bees are part of the story, the story itself is not about beekeeping. So if bees aren’t your thing, don’t let that discourage you from reading this very good novel.
Georgia Chambers has been estranged from her family for 10 years. She resides in New Orleans, where she works with china, mostly antique Limoges china. She knows everything there is to know about china patterns, which is what brings her new client James Graf to her. He has found amidst his things a couple of pieces of very unusual china that bears a bumblebee pattern, and he wants to find out the history.
This leads to that, and Georgia finds the need to go back to her home of origin in Apalachicola, Florida – a real town located in the panhandle of the state, on the Gulf of Mexico. She has not seen her sister Maisy, her mother Birdie, or her grandfather (who is an apiarist) since something devastating happened 10 years earlier. Just what that event was is kept a secret throughout the book, with just bits and pieces of clues provided the reader. All we know is that Birdie hasn’t spoken a word since then, and Maisy won’t have anything to do with Georgia.
The character of Georgia was one of the most interesting characters of any Karen White novel I’ve read. She was private, cold, and yet likable. The pain she feels by being separated from the family she loves so much is spelled out so clearly, I could feel her pain myself. Maisy’s anguish and Birdie’s – well – craziness, are handled in such a way as to not make them disagreeable characters, only troubled.
As all of the pieces fall into place, the reader begins to understand what created such a divided family. The ending was satisfying and not schmaltzy.
Flight Patterns might be one of my favorite reads of 2017.