Category: Adult Fiction, 244 pages
Genre: Women's fiction, Southern fiction
Publisher: Word Association Publishers
Release date: January 2015 (Second Edition)
Content Rating: PG-13 + Mature (The majority of the content is humorous and suitable for all adult audiences, but it does contain dark themes of suicide, adultery, addiction, an out-of-wedlock birth, and an explicit (but funny) discussion of male genitalia. There is occasional bad language. There are evolving attitudes about race, including use of the "n-word".)
Set in the Bible Belt of Deep East Texas, Visiting the Sins is a darkly funny story about mothers and daughters, naked ambition, elusive redemption, and all the torment it's possible to inflict in the name of family.
Down through the decades, the lofty social aspirations of the feisty but perennially dissatisfied Wheeler women -- Pokey, the love-starved, pistol-packing matriarch; Rebanelle, the frosty former beauty queen turned church organist; and Curtis Jean, the backsliding gospel singer -- are exceeded only by their unfortunate taste in men and a seemingly boundless capacity for holding grudges. A legacy of feuding and scandal lurches from one generation to the next with tragic consequences that threaten to destroy everything the Wheeler women have sacrificed their souls to build.
Visiting the Sins by Melanie Denman is as big as the state of Texas and as crazy as most of the Texas women I know (and love - as my MIL and her two sisters live in DFW).
We follow the lives of four generations of Wheeler women, who have huge personalities and an absolute certainty that they are right and everyone else (especially the other women in their family) are wrong. This book shows the best generational in-fighting between mothers and daughters I have ever read, and maybe even heard about.
Life in Texas coming down through the years was rarely easy. Some of the women wanted things for their daughters that they could not have had growing up. Some took it a step farther and wanted their daughters to get things for them that they missed out on. They made good and bad choices - just like the rest of us. They love and put up with their men - just like the rest of us. They are concerned about appearances - just like the rest of us.
The book goes back and forth in time, but is coherent. There is a name at the beginning of each chapter which spells out which Wheeler is serving as main character - for which I am very grateful.
If you want a book that will help you either commiserate and/or rejoice with your sister women, Visiting the Sins is the book for you!
Melanie Denman is a native of Nacogdoches, Texas and a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University. An eighth-generation Texan, and a former banker and cattle rancher, she currently lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is working on a second novel.
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(Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publisher via iRead Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)