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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 20 star ratings
4 reviews

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4.3 out of 5
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  • 3 person found this review helpful

    3 people found this review helpful

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    Song of Savannah...and everywhere.

    Everyone in Savannah high society seems to hope Iris Temple dies sooner rather than later. Almost no one likes her, and everyone has felt the sting from the crack of her verbal whip. For generations she has held the Temple Book of Secrets as her primary weapon of potential mass destruction. This book, a family heirloom in which generations of Temples have kept copious notes on the VERY bad things everyone else in Savannah’s high society did throughout the decades, is Iris’ social sword. Her lousy temperament and unapologetically insufferable air of condescension is another. Gabriel has outdone herself in the perfectly on- point depiction of Iris Temple. What a masterful character creation! Although she’s not present for much of the book, Iris Temple touches every moment and every one else in it. Somebody is putting a “secret a day” in the classifieds, and Iris is getting apoplectic about it. No one knows who is doing this as the actual book of Temple Secrets is under lock and key. Is there a second copy somewhere? From the top of the Savannah social heap to the high bottom, tempers flare, generations of moral superiority comes crashing down on heads too shocked to thwart the blows, and even Iris’ immediate family thinks Iris has lost it. Once again. Susan Gabriel has captured the song of the South and Savannah as she plays both sides of the verbal harp with expert timing, authentic dialog and engrossing narrative. The characters approach one another with a quirky queasiness that is laugh-out-loud funny just on the face of it. Gabriel writes books that are an easy pleasure to read. An audio version of this book would be great! As readers, we hear the chords and melody simultaneously as we go seamlessly back and forth amongst the singularly sensitive, the often unintentionally humorous and the regionally cranky Southern psyche. Add money, a list of righteous purveyors of interracial insemination, some of it in flagrante delicto, and sibling and half-sibling rivalry of biblical proportions that goes back generations. Gabriel gives us the setting and masterfully-plied tension that makes Temple Secrets literary music. Temple Secrets is a page-turner of a story that goes deeper than most on the subjects of equality, courage and dignity. There were five or six characters to love and a few to loathe. Gabriel draws Queenie, Violet, Spud, Rose and Rose’s lesbian daughter and her lover precisely, with a narrative dexterity that is amazingly and perfectly sparse while achieving an impact of fullness and depth. Their interactions with the outside world and one another are priceless moments of hilarious asides, well-aimed snipes and a plethora of sarcasms. I especially loved the character of 100-year-old Old Sally. Her very existence is the product of the one-sided passions between Old Sally’s African-American mother and one of the White Temple forbearers. In fact, at least four generations of her family are the product of Temple patriarchal entitlement. Sally decides enough is enough of this Temple dynasty. When Old Sally reinserts herself back into the family that so forcefully created her own, she’s got some Gullah spell casting to do. If anyone else knows, no one is saying. What happens when the inevitable inequities come about amongst the Haves, the Have Nots and the Damn-Right-I-Will-Have? When some people have far too much time, wealth and power and not enough humanness and courage? Oh, the answers Gabriel provides are as delicious as Violet’s peach turnovers, and twice as addicting! I highly recommend this novel.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

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    Compelling and unforgettable

    Susan Gabriel explores the nature of home and family in this wonderful story. The Temple Secrets is a book that the matriarch of the family uses to threaten others into allowing her to do as she pleases. The characters are strong and fascinating, particularly Queenie and Old Sally, but even Iris had a secret in her past. The lush southern setting sounds so lovely that I wish I could visit the characters in their home. I couldn't put this book down. Loved every minute and I'm going to buy another Gabriel book for my Kobo tonight.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

    2 people found this review helpful

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    Funny, rollicking, strong women, ghosts & more

    I love a meaty novel that gives me a great story, is well written, teaches me a few things and makes me - at various points - laugh out loud and cry. Temple Secrets delivered all of that. I tend to be a silent laughter but I burst out with a few in this book! The story is narrated by four women: Queenie, Violet, Rose and occasionally Old Sally. These women, black and white, have a lot of shared family history and to varying extent, genes. Queenie is hilarious, Violet, her niece has the third eye abilities she shared with Old Sally, her grandmother and the wise holder of the Gullah traditions, and Rose is the estranged daughter of Iris Temple, the matriarch of this entrenched, elite Savannah family. I don’t want to try to summarize the plot, but will just leave it that it’s a wonderful novel sticks with you.
  • 0 person found this review helpful

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    Temple secrets

    I loved the characters in this book. Inciteful, strong women that i would love to know. I didn't want it to end. would make a great movie.

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