Cover Image: Dreams of Falling

Dreams of Falling

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Member Reviews

These stories of immense friendship between women that transcend time are some of my favorites. I've said this before, but I think we all have those special relationships that you know will last a lifetime. Books like this remind me of mine and how your closest friends are not just friends, but family. 

This book goes back and forth from past to present and seems to be giving the full story of these women and the secrets they keep. Throw in some southern charm and what can I say - I'm a happy camper. In every group, people play their role. There's always the rebel, the pretty one and the one who cared too much but never felt like the front runner. Here we find Bitty, Margaret and Ceecee respectively. Things are different in 1951 and the things friends sacrifice to help their friends are things we, today, probably wouldn't even consider. Especially the sense of honor in the South. White brings these aspects to the page graciously and I felt like I was in Georgetown with these ladies. Each character came to life and the pictures in my head were vivid with imagery. (I wanted to throat punch Jackson EVERY TIME he came into the picture and pictured Bennet as a Chris Pratt type 😍). Larkin, who is lucky enough to have all of these women as (grand)mother figures, is still trying to find her way and coming back to her past she thought she had successfully ran away from opens up doors, eyes and hearts. 

While the secrets learned throughout the story weren't necessarily shocking.. they felt extremely REAL and HUMAN and that, for me, sometimes makes the book even better. Feel these women, what they've gone through and how they'll be "friends forever". It's true that sometimes jealousy can be ascribed to admiration. If you're superstitious at all, be very careful what you wish for - it just might come all too true.

Highly recommend for those who love some historical, some romance and a lot of friendship.
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Fans of Karen White will not be disappointed by Dreams of Falling in which she employs her signature writing style to tell the story of two lifelong friends, Ceecee and Bitty, set in South Carolina in 2010. Growing up, there were three of them and the beautiful, charismatic Margaret Darlington was the center of their universe. Wealthy, privileged, and unaccustomed to being denied her every whim, Margaret's Southern charm and sophistication stood in contrast to Ceecee's conservative upbringing as the daughter of a local pastor and Bitty's rearing by working-class parents. Into the Tree of Dreams, a towering oak on the Darlington's property, the three girls dropped, at Margaret's urging, ribbons upon which they wrote their hopes and desires. And during one glorious two-week vacation following their 1951 high school graduation, Margaret and Ceecee believed the tree had fulfilled their identical desires. However, the long-revered Darlington luck had finally run out. Now, in 2010, Margaret's granddaughter, Larkin Lanier, has returned home from New York City to tend to her catastrophically injured mother, Ivy. Larkin fled South Carolina in search of a life free from the humiliations and delusions of her youth. Ivy was raised by Ceecee after Margaret died tragically when Ivy was just two years old, and Ceecee & her husband also played an enormous role in Larkin's upbringing. Larkin has been estranged -- apart from the annual birthday message -- from Ivy for nine years, but her return home provides the impetus for resolution of old hurts, resentments, and the discovery of the truth about Margaret's untimely death. White employs multiple voices to tell the story of current-day events, as well as those set in motion back in 1951 that altered all of their lives. As Ivy, in a comatose state, observes what is transpiring around her, as well as her motivations, Ceecee narrates the youthful adventure of three hopeful 1951 graduates, while Larkin relates her journey to come to grips with the realities of her circumstances and choices. The result is a powerful tale of familial choices, secrets, and relationships within an intricately-plotted mystery.  In other words, pure Karen White-style storytelling infused with Southern charm and values. Dreams of Falling is a perfect summer beach read!
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Larkin Lanier left Georgetown, South Carolina, nine years ago. Four years at Fordham University and another five as a copywriter at an ad agency has given Larkin a life of sorts in New York “where people seemed to care only about where you were going, not where you’d been.” She has returned to Georgetown only for an obligatory Christmas visit when she could not escape one, and she doesn’t even answer the phone calls of her father who disillusioned her so thoroughly that she cannot forgive him. However, when the woman she thinks of as her grandmother calls to say that Larkin’s mother has disappeared, Larkin knows that she cannot refuse to return to the place that still claims her, regardless of the miles and the years that separate her from home.

Ivy Madsen Lanier, Larkin’s mother, is found by her daughter in the wreck of Carrowmore, once the legendary home of her mother’s family, the Darlingtons. Carrowmore was destroyed by the fire in which Ivy’s mother, Margaret Darlington Madsen, perished and which two-year-old Ivy survived. As Larkin searches for the reason her mother was in the shell of a house and uncovers secrets that stretch half a century into the past, she also learns secrets of her mother’s life and finally comes to terms with the events from her own past that have left her hiding from life and from home.

Sessalee “Ceecee” Purnell, daughter of a Methodist pastor and his wife, Martha “Bitty” Williams, daughter of educators, and Margaret Darlington, only child of the wealthy Darlingtons have been best friends since first grade. In 1951, just after their high school graduation, they celebrate their new status as adults with a trip to Myrtle Beach where they meet brothers Boyd and Reggie Madsen. The lives of all five young people are forever changed. Margaret dies in a fire, and Ceecee, with assistance/interference from Bitty, rears Margaret’s daughter Ivy and loves her as her own and protects Margaret’s secrets.

The novel moves between the twenty-first century (2010) where twenty-seven-year-old Larkin cannot move beyond key experiences of her youth and Ivy drifts between life and death and the mid-twentieth century where Ceecee, Bitty, and Margaret learn hard lessons about life and friendship and loss.

Karen White gives her readers another evocative novel about women’s relationships as friends and as mothers and daughters. Secrets and the complicated bonds of family and friendship are recurring motifs in White’s novels. The skill with which White handles these themes and her lucid prose with its wonderful lyrical moments made my first response to this novel fangirl enthusiasm. She also has an enviable sense of place that gives her settings an appealing dimensionality. A second, more critical assessment forced me to acknowledge that the three narratives are uneven in power.

The 1950s storyline is the strongest. White’s characterization of the three friends—the introverted, ambivalent Ceecee, the artistic, unconventional Bitty, and the privileged Margaret—is vivid and engaging. It is even more remarkable because she makes Ceecee and Bitty real for her readers both as young women and as septuagenarians. Ivy is a much less substantial character colored by loss and regret to such a degree that she seems more ghost than character. Some may see this as fitting given her physical state, but I wanted to know more of her. I had mixed reactions to Larkin. I found her sympathetic as a character who never had the connection with her mother that she needed, and her relationships with Mabry and Bennett were also compelling. However, she seemed a very young twenty-seven to me and largely untouched by her college years. The high school trauma as defining moment, a popular trope in women’s fiction and romance, always leaves me alternately scoffing “Really?” and wondering if my own high school experience was lacking since shaping experiences came before or after that period.

Overall, I recommend this book to readers who have enjoyed other Karen White books, to fans of Southern fiction, and to readers who like women’s fiction that demonstrates with Faulknerian grace that the past is never really past. The characters will interest you, and the plot will keep you turning pages. Nevertheless, I don’t think this one reaches the five-star level of The Beach Trees, The Time Between, and some of the Tradd Street books.
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This is the first Karen White book I read but it won’t be my last. 

To be honest, it took me a couple of chapters to get really into it—maybe I wasn’t paying attention enough, I don’t know. But, there were a lot of characters and a mixology of relationships thrown in at first and I had a hard time keeping track of how this person was involved with that person. BUT---it was worth the time I spent figuring it out.

There are two parallel intriguing storylines involving two sets of friends and family. Each one of these intrigues propelled the story forward and made for page-turning reading. Sometimes in books with parallel storylines, readers will find themselves wishing for one over the other. That was not the case in this book, both stories had me wanting to know what had happened.

I loved the seven primary characters in this story—Mabry and Bennett were the type of friends we all wish we could have, Bitty was a kick, CeeCee had the biggest heart ever, and Larkin just needed to be reminded of the heart she had.

About half way through this, I knew I was going to be up until the wee hours to finish it, because I wasn’t putting it down until I was done. 

I received an advanced copy of this. All opinions are my own.
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Family secrets and drama are something every family experiences.   Larkin ran from her hometown and family to escape all that but when she is pulled back due to her mother being in the hospital she starts to realize that her memories may not be quite so spot on.     What she thinks she remembers may not be the entire truth, there might be more to her family that she was never aware of, and there are friendships she left behind that might have more to tell.   I loved that the friends she ran from still had open arms welcoming her home as if she had never left.     The family that she left doesn’t push her to stay just work on reminding her what she was missing and why she shouldn’t leave again.   

Dreams of Falling is a story rich with family history.   The history starts with Margaret, CeeCee, and Bitty and their amazing friendship.   Add Ivy, Margaret’s daughter, to that history a few years later and the story just gets more interesting.     Then Ivy has a daughter, Larkin, and you have three generations of wonderful, strong, and smart women.    The thing with history is that there are secrets kept, hidden, or needing to be forgotten.   

I am a Karen White fan and recommend this wonderful Southern fiction story.
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Dark secrets and family drama make this book one I didn’t want to put down. Larkin’s story is one I enjoyed very much and the Southern setting was delicious! 

I highly recommend this book to readers who love beautifully written drama with a gorgeous setting. This one was fabulous
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Nine years ago Larkin left her hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina and headed for New York.   She made a new life for herself there. She never intends to return home until she receives a frantic phone call from her family. Her mother, Ivy, is missing. Larkin has no choice but to head home and help find Ivy.

When Ivy is found in her family’s ancestral abandoned home, she is unconscious. No one knows why she was there, but Larkin vows to find out. As Ivy lies in a hospital bed fighting for her life, Larkin begins her investigation. She is stunned to discover her family has many secrets that have been hidden for years.

The book is told in three point of views - Larkin’s, Ivy’s, and Ceecee’s (the woman who raised Ivy). The story alternates between the 1950’s and 2010. There are thick layers of secrets for Larkin and the reader to sift through. I was kept on my toes and quite intrigued as I tried to figure out exactly what was happening.

Dreams of Falling is a well-written novel filled with intrigue, heartbreak, family, mystery, betrayal, secrets and true love. I devoured this one. It kept me enthralled until all was revealed. Karen White did a beautiful job with this poignant tale.  These are all characters I truly came to care about.
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This is a story of friendship between three friends told over 50 years.  Centered around an old southern home on the banks of a river, Larkin is called home after her mother has an accident and must face her history in the small town as well as her family’s.  A wishing tree and a promise of enduring friendship unfold to shape entire lives...  come what may.  Karen White includes imagery and highly developed characters that are engaging without encumbering the story.  I highly recommend this book.  I received an ARC of this book.  All opinions are my own.
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One thing you can always count on in Karen White's books is that you will not be disappointed. While I still have my favorites (The Sound of Glass and The Night the Lights Went Out), and this one was not up there with those, it was still a really enjoyable read. Set in two time periods, present day (2010) and the 50's, we follow three main characters who have remained friends from early school years to the present. We also follow the children and grandchildren of those women, so it can get a bit confusing at the beginning who belongs to who. No  worries though, Ms. White will guide you through, as her writing just flows along with the story. I did actually enjoy the early time frame story more than the present, but I may have been jaded by the fact that a lot of it took place on a vacation the girls took to Myrtle Beach. We own a vacation house in Myrtle, so I quite enjoyed all the references to places I know well (and it reminded me again how sad I am that the Pavillion is no longer there!). Of course the book also has its share of secrets and twists that keep you guessing, and the quintessential Karen White southern charm!

Another solid read that Ms. White can add to her impressive resume. If you like books set in the south, with great characters, lots of secrets kept and a bit of mystery, I think you will enjoy this one. Put it in your beach bag, especially if you are planning a vacation to an Atlantic ocean beach this summer.
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Karen White's Dreams of Falling spans several decades. It starts back in the 1950s with three best friends who get to travel to Myrtle Beach after graduating high school. Things lead to a secret that two of the three have kept hidden for decades.



Skip forward in time. Larkin left South Carolina after a horrible act of betrayal shattered her world. She's a talented copywriter in New York City with no plans to ever return to her hometown.



When her grandmother calls her, she's torn. She never wanted to return, but her mother, Ivy, is missing. Larkin makes the trip back to the place she swore she'd never see again. It's there that Larkin starts to uncover the truth about her grandmother, her mother, and herself.



Dreams of Falling wasn't a horribly fast-paced novel. It meanders back and forth between the 1950s and the 2000s. It details the experiences of Larkin's grandmother and her best friends, the secrets they hide, and skips back to Ivy and what led to her disappearance. It also slowly unravels Larkin's experience that caused her to leave. It doesn't move fast, but it keeps your attention on the different generations and fragile bonds between different people.



I found myself struggling to put the book down. I ended up going to bed early just to have time to finish it. I'm glad I did. The setting, the story, and the characters will stay with me for a long time.
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I am such a Karen White fan.  I look forward to her books, and her collaboration books with Lauren Willig and Beatriz Williams - The Forgotten Room was ah=mazing. 

So getting an advanced copy of Dreams of Falling was a big deal for me.  I held onto it and savored it and waited until the perfect time to read it - when I was on a beach in Florida.  It did not disappoint.

Larkin heads home to help look for her mother, and stays when her mother is found injured in her old family house.  While she waits for her mom to heal, she starts digging into why her mother was in the burned down use in the first place.

Her best sources of information are her mother's caretakers since childhood, Bitty and Ceecee.  They were her grandmother's best friends, and helped raise Ivy when her mother died.

But Bitty and Ceecee aren't too forthcoming with information, and they seem worried as she keeps digging, especially around the ribbon tree.  And as Larkin tries to unravel the mystery, her mother Ivy lingers in a coma, not sure if she wants to stick around or not.

Larkin has spent years running away from all things Georgetown, from her old friends to her true love Bennett and she is terrified to be back facing all of her childhood demons.

A great summer read, in the pool, on the beach, on your couch in the air conditioning, on the Kindle app on your phone while you hide in the bathroom at work.

Current Goodreads Rating 4.26
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I really enjoyed this Southern fiction "Dreams Of Falling" by Karen White. Generations of secrets unpeeled gradually, with hurt and forgiveness. A beautiful story of friendship and family. Thank you NetGalley and the Ninja's for the advance copy. All opinions are my own.
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Let me start out by saying that this is a fabulous book! Karen White you have written such a lovely book about family, secrets, forgiveness and restoration. Larkin, the main character, has left her quiet life growing up in the Low Country down south for the bustling city of NY. Slowly, White reveals that Larkin had reasons for leaving her home and family behind. A family emergency draws her back home and she has to confront not only her past, but discovers that there are a myriad of things she didn't know about herself and her family members.
As I read this book, the comparison between this and Steel Magnolias kept popping up in my mind. The characters are earthly, loving, and just this side of quirky. Ceecee, Bitty, Ivy, Mabry and Bennett are sure to capture your heart.
The story blooms and unfolds as you move between 2010 and 1951. It's just a flat-out fabulous book that I highly recommend for summer reading. 
I received an Advance Review Copy. All opinions are my own.
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Oh this was good!  It's always a trick in dual timeline books to keep each time line equally compelling but this was done so effortlessly here that I didn't even realize it had been done until I had finished the book.  

There's so much to cover here but I don't want to go to much into details as part of the fun is seeing just how the secrets and past threads unravel.  I enjoyed the friendship between Ceecee, Bitty, and Margaret and really appreciated that this wasn't a flawless relationship.  There's bits of envy and jealously and resentment mixed in with all the love and friendship which added to the authenticity of the book.  I loved Larkin and can relate to her wanting to separate herself from who she was when she was growing up.  The characters aren't perfect but I did feel like their flaws were relatable.  I recognized bits of myself as I was reading which wasn't always comfortable but did help with the connection to the characters and the story itself.

I could feel that heavy sticky summer heat (and not just because it's a very real thing right now here in Alabama) while I was reading and this was one of those books where it felt like the characters sprang to life on the page.  I'm glad I finally managed to pick up a Karen White novel and I can guarantee it won't be last!
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DREAMS OF FALLING by Karen White is one of my favorite reads from her collection so far.  Reading books by White makes me feel good as a reader.  I know I’m going to have a good bit of mystery, a lot of Southern Charm, strong female relationships, and a lot of good writing with some really profound lines.  I really enjoyed how this story was told from three perspectives in two time periods – Larkin, Ivy, and Ceecee.  It never got complicated to keep track of what timeframe you were in.  I really appreciated Larkin as a character – I found her relatable and so her sometimes erratic behavior didn’t throw me off her fan club.  I think anyone that likes White’s other stories will be fond of this one as well and I hope we all have a Bitty in our lives.

I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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3.5 stars, rounded up. Karen White is a reigning queen of Southern women's fiction, and Dreams of Falling is an atmospheric, moody story perfect for reading on a breezy beach or humid porch. It's slightly too long, and I think in particular the sections of the book set in the past could have been cut down to trim that length as that storyline wasn't as compelling as the story of Larkin's return to her hometown and the regrets and losses living there. I'm sure this one will be a popular book this summer, and it's fortunate that the author has a long backlist to satisfy readers who won't want to stop after reading this one.
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There is something utterly enchanting about the manner in which White weaves a tale, there’s always a little something for every type of reader and Dreams of Falling is no exception. There is family drama, secrets between friends, good old fashioned southern charm, romance and even a historical feel as some chapters flip back to the fifties.

This follows a family of women and the Darlington’s and Margaret Darlington’s two best friends, Ceecee and Bitty. Those two were my favorite, they share a long history and not much of it is happy, but theirs is a friendship based on true loyalty and love which is something you don’t see much of nowadays. They snipe and snark at each other as only old, true friends can and as more of their story was revealed I found myself liking them that much more.

I was never exactly sure what old secrets were trying to come to light, I had some ideas but never had things totally figured out. There was so much pain between these women, loss heartbreak and betrayal, but I loved how they stood by each other and any mistakes they made were done with only the purest of intentions. I think this will be a popular book club choice because it will satisfy so many different readers, if you’re a fan of White I think you’ll enjoy this immensely.

Dreams of Falling in three words: Captivating, Moving and Charming.
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Wow!  ‘Dreams of Falling’ has everything you have come to expect from a Karen White novel, secrets, lies, and romance all set in the South.
‘Dreams of Falling’ pulls the reader in on the first page and does not let go. Larkin, the main character, is living in New York when she has to return home to Georgetown, South Carolina due to a family emergency. It quickly becomes apparent that Larkin ran away from Georgetown for some reason.
The narration of the story alternates between 1952 and 2010.  I really enjoyed how Karen White slowly revealed secrets thereby keeping the reader engaged.
One of my favorite things about the book is the strong bonds of friendship that White created, both among Margaret, Ceecee, and Bitty as well Larkin, Bennett, and Mabry.
Opening up a Karen White book is like taking a trip down South. I love her rich and vivid descriptions of the Southern lowlands and marshes. I hope to visit the South one day but until I do, a Karen White novel is the next best thing. I will miss these characters. This is a book that I am sorry to see end
I received an Advance Review Copy. All opinions are my own.
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Dreams of Falling is my favorite book of the 40 I've read in 2018. I love that this flipped back and forth between 2010 and 1950. I thought the plot unveiled wonderfully--just enough information to keep you interested but not enough that you figured it out. You had to keep reading to see how the story was going to roll out. The relationship between all the women in this story, while complicated and troublesome at times, was so beautiful. This is everything that I expect from a true southern family story. History, mystery, love, and betrayal all rolled into one awesome summer read.

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Karen White is one of our favorite local authors. This book did not disappoint. We already have this title on order and I just bumped the number up.
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