Civil Hearts

Claire Gem

Narrator: Merphy Napier


PARANORMAL:  After Liv Larsen loses her husband to a terrible illness, she decides to change her life and leave New York.  She ends up purchasing the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion in rural Alabama.  Her friends, all couples, think she’s daft.  Yet, she feels drawn to the house and the town.  Belle Bride ownership has turned over repeatedly in recent years. Liv soon discovers why:  there is a ghost sharing her home.  Heath Barrow loves living in Camellia, Alabama.  He sells antiques, and ends up furnishing much of the mansion with his stock.  He also has epilepsy, with symptoms mimicking the disease that stole Liv’s husband.

This story is intriguing!  The reader is drawn deeply into the story, wanting to learn more about this Civil War ghost and his story and many other interesting characters. The warmth and hospitality of the south is on full display here, with an underlying current of tension hovering on the periphery throughout much of the story.  Liv’s tragic loss plays into her relationship with Heath until she finally explains why she has such extreme reactions to his seizures.  They have both experienced hurt and loss, and it is gratifying when they finally accept the reality of their situation.

The narrator did a fine job with much of the story.  Unfortunately, multiple words were mispronounced (‘realitor’ instead of realtor; ‘hurth’ instead of hearth; ‘tossled’ instead of tousled, etc.) which detracted from the story itself.  There were also a couple of places where the dialogue is broken and repeated.  Aside from these minor annoyances, she did a decent job of bringing the story to life.  There were enough variations between the voices to keep each character distinct. Her southern accent was thick at times, but that is real life in the rural south.

Carey Sullivan