Let me start by saying, I fell in love with the setting and theme of this story. Honeybees are fascinating little creatures and I've always been charmed by items designed with a bee motif. I thought White's use of the bee's flight pattern and habits of nature was a clever way to describe a woman's return to her family - kind of like a return to the hive. Each chapter begins with a bit of Bee 101 and it compares well to the storyline. I learned so many interesting facts about bees while reading this book. (Hope this doesn't start me on a bee collection frenzy. Seriously, I really don't need another hobby or collection.) The location setting was another great tug at my heartstrings. I love reading books that take place in familiar locations. It's very easy to identify with a character on neutral territory, even better when it's one of my happy places. In this instance, two of my happy places: New Orleans and the Florida Gulf Coast. It was as if Karen White had a list of all my favorite things and wrote a story that revolved around them. The icing on the cake was, of course, the storyline that has a family trying to trace the history of what could be a rare and valuable bee-patterned Limoges china set. The search begins in New Orleans when a man from New York enlists the help of Georgia Sawyers, a well respected antiques consultant, knowledgeable in most things antique. I love antiques! I've spent many weekends in many antique shops. It's one hobby I'll never give up. My grandparents, mother, and aunts trained me well when it comes to all things antique. Some of my youngest, fondest memories revolve around antiques and flea markets. Both my grandmother and mother enjoyed collecting various pieces of china. I, myself, have a terrible weakness for sugar and creamer sets. Once I realized where White intended to take this story I was completely hooked. Antique pieces, especially those passed down from generation to generation, tell a story, each having their own unique history. White uses a set of china to tell a families history and the bee's patterns are a unique connection that ties everything together. An intriguing tale. Truly.
Now, let's move on to what I didn't like about this book, shall we? There's a lot going on in Flight Patterns. The story started out fantastic. Right out of the gate awesome. Then, as I got closer to the halfway point, I thought, Ok. Enough already. Because the characters are trying to trace the history of the china, the past of the characters involved is revealed. Old hurts and misdeeds of each are revisited. Over and over. The characters of this book are all holding on to the past like it's all they've got. I mean, this is a family in crisis and no one's talking and addressing the issues but everyone's looking for a missing piece of china. I wasn't buying some of it, especially when White added another visiting, meddling sibling to the mix. I realize WHY this character was added but it just seemed unnecessary and highly improbable. However, as fiction goes, there are lots of improbable plots so I eventually rolled with it. Didn't like it but I got my head around it. Next, without giving anything away, I found the plot twists to be farfetched. Then, it seemed like some of the major twists were conveniently explained away or not explained enough. After a while, I was just ready to wrap it up. By this point, the book was beginning to depress me. This family was in so much turmoil that I wondered how they'd ever be able to move past all of the secrets and mistrust. In reality, several of these characters would end up in therapy. For years! But, again, fiction is fiction and everyone likes a happy, tidy ending. Right?
Here's the deal, I did like this book. Had it's moments...it's very great moments. I would probably recommend it to friends and family. It's entertaining. I often judge a book by what I can take away from it, what I actually get out of the story. I have a new found respect for bees and Limoges patterns. While I'm certainly not taking any familial cues from this group, the overall message is decent. It's always good when one finds their way back to the heart of the hive.
Final verdict: three and a half buzz-worthy stars, only because it left me feeling a bit depressed.
*I won an ARC of Flight Patterns through a Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for sponsoring the giveaway and providing me with a copy.
Bees protecting their queen.
How I imagined the family home in Apalachicola. Even has the turret & this old home is not far from Apalach.
Back to the hive of Apalachicola. I could die happy here. Who's coming with me?!