Three people—a struggling artist, an unsuccessful writer and an elderly farmer—find an unexpected connection in this warmhearted novel.
“Am I the only person on the planet who wants some MAGIC in her life?” wonders Caddy Keyhoe, who sells “earnest footwear” in New Orleans while trying to make it as an artist. She creates collages from discarded shiny materials (“broken mirrors and costume jewelry, colored glass, bicycle reflectors”) that she layers and covers with acrylic. “The point is to look down deep into things,” she writes in an artist’s statement. Alec Rix, with one published novel to his credit, runs a failing bookstore in Columbia, S.C., and writes a little-read blog, along with the occasional freelanced article. Both are nearly 40, feeling frustrated in their work and personal lives. That changes when Caddy dreams of a diamond-shaped UFO and then finds a diamond, “glittering at her feet like a fallen star,” as if just for her. Her art freshly inspired, she contacts Alec after reading his article about a possible UFO sighting over the land of 85-year-old retired farmer Hatchell T. Beckham. When Alec meets Caddy and tells her of a surprising connection between her and Hatch, all their lives are transformed. The magic here isn’t really UFOs but rather the kind that allows the right people to find each other. Harper (Ghost in the Bedroom, 2014, etc.) capably creates fully rounded portraits of her believable, scarred, sometimes-insecure, entirely lovable characters. Hatch, thinking of all he has survived, sometimes kneels and prays when no one can see him: “Humble. Not only out of restrained Presbyterianism, but also because no man making his living by planting seeds in the earth can ever be anything but.” Minor characters also come alive; Caddy’s shoe-store boss and his girlfriend “believe in taking no more from the Earth than what’s strictly necessary: iPhones, mountain bikes, all-natural raw chicken from Whole Foods for their hypothyroid border collie.” The romantic plot is sweet, hot and well-paced.
Deft characterization, wry humor and quiet but momentous scenes of growing affection create a deep-down satisfying novel.