It’s almost impossible to believe this is a debut novel. Gervais Hagerty bursts onto the literary scene with an atmospheric novel of Charleston and the society within its very proper confines. What a great novel to round up your summer reading season.
Simons Smythe is not happy. We feel this right from the beginning of the story. She’s been engaged to Trip for years. They are perfect for each other. She’s part of Charleston society and so is he. He is everything her family has ever wanted for her. She thought he was too, until recently. Now she has one year to fall back in love with Trip. Simons Smythe has lived in Charleston, South Carolina for her entire life. She plans on staying there. Until her fiance Trip tells her he’s accepted a job with a law firm in Columbia and that’s where they’ll live. You can already see where this is going. Simons enjoys living alone in her apartment. She also likes her job as a news producer doing the local news on tv. She has no plans to move.
The Smythe family is very old Charleston money. They’re part of the city that has quietly ruled the roost of society seemingly forever. Certain things are expected of them and one is conformity. And this is where Simons fails miserably. She’s a strong and opinionated young woman who does not want to be held down. Women have a place and need to heed it. Her mother is all about this. Her sisters have accepted it. But Simons is yanking at the reins and straining to break away. The good old boys are not going to tame her. Where did she get this strong will you might ask? Her grandmother Laudie was a very strong woman. She’s managed to keep a very precious secret all her life and most of her family have no idea. She seems to be so meek and beholding to her husband of many years. But what really happened all those years ago before her marriage?
You’re going to be wowed by the attention to detail and the flora and fauna in this Lowcountry tale. I could almost smell the tangy aroma of the blue crabs as they were steaming their lives away in the crab pot. I grew up in Maryland and know the enjoyment of freshly cooked blue crabs. I loved the gardens in the city and the flowers. I especially loved Laudie’s tropical garden filled with all the Southern blooms and greenery that burst into bloom during their season. Zinnias are Laudie’s favorites and so Simons strives to keep them healthy and colorful.
There are several scenes throughout this novel that made me take pause. One such scene is where Simon’s sister Weezy is giving birth to her second child in a very special birthing center that is not in a hospital. Simon’s is attending. It took my breath away and reminded me of how very special giving birth truly is.
You’ll experience the excitement and beauty of a debutante ball, many society events, trips across the marsh to the Edisto River, and reverent visits to gorgeous gardens.
IN POLITE COMPANY is a vast story of family, strong women, what makes a real friendship, and breaking out to do the brave thing even if it’s not popular.
Gervais Hagerty lives in Charleston, South Caroline, with her husband and two children. She earned her MBA from The Citadel. She’s worked in tv production and she’s reported the news. She knows of what she writes.
MARY ALICE MONROE says: “The Southern charm, cobbled streets, and pedigreed society of Charleston are served up on a silver platter in this stunning debut.”
My finished trade paper copy of IN POLITE COMPANY was sent to me from the generous publishing people at William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins. This per request from Kathie Bennett at Magic Time Literary Agency. I send my humble thanks for providing this amazing debut novel by Gervais Hagerty who is definitely a novelist to watch!