Looking for Me by the author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt has much to recommend it, and yet....
What I liked: great ambiance in the settings of the family farm in Kentucky and in Charlston, S.C.; lovely Southern charm and flowing descriptions; nature and wildlife; the love of junk picking and quality antiques; the feathers and the notes from Josh; gardens; and near the end, Teddi's refusal to sell her father's old Allis-Chalmers tractor. ( All of the above are things I personally love, and my father gave us an old Allis-Chalmers tractor many years ago that I adored and called Alice. I also had an antique shop for a while and still love junking.)
And yet...it was about half-way through the book before any real plot developed; there were too many time-shifts; much of the detail, while interesting and well-written either didn't advance the story or slowed it down and dispersed interest; Josh's disappearance did not feel realistic to me (leaving a family and sister he loved with no word or follow-up contact); too many themes going on. It seemed as if every good idea and description and interest that Hoffman had, she tried to use in one book.
Initially, I loved it. The minor characters are especially well done, and Hoffman's skill in creating an environment is wonderful. Even nearly half-way through with no idea what the plot was, I was still enjoying the book because I am interested in all of things Hoffman writes about. My thought was that it was like little essays or anecdotes about avocations and incidents and that I could be satisfied with that. At a certain point, however, I would have preferred more of a sense of continuity, a clear direct priority of theme and narrative.
Hoffman writes beautifully about her passions. Maybe that is recommendation enough.
(Oh, and I thought about Andrew's Kelly, another woman with an innate knowledge of antiques and junk, who can spot the rare bargain and the upcoming trends.)
NetGalley/Penguin Group, Viking.
May 28, 2012. Print version: 368 pages.