From book flap:
One sunny morning in 1969, near the end of her first trip to Miami, twenty-six-year-old Frances Ellerby finds herself in a place called Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay.
It's the first time the Atlanta native has been out on the open water, and she's captivated. On the dock of a stilt house, with the dazzling skyline in the distance and the unknowable ocean beneath her, she meets the house's owner, Dennis DuVal - and a new future reveals itself.
Turning away from her quiet, predictable life back home, Frances moves to Miami to be with Dennis. Over time, she earns the confidence of his wild-at-heart sister and wins the approval of his oldest friend. Frances and Dennis marry and have a child - but rather than growing complacent about their good fortune, they continue to face the challenges of intimacy and the complicated city they call home.
Stiltsville is the family's island oasis - until suddenly it's gone, and Frances is forced to figure out how to make her family work on dry land. Against a backdrop of lush tropical beauty, Frances and Dennis struggle with the mutability of love and Florida's weather, as well as temptation, chaos, and disappointment. But just when Frances thinks she's reached some semblance of higher ground, she must confront an obstacle so great that even the lessons she's learned about navigating the uncharted waters of family life can't keep them afloat.
I've lived in South Florida and was looking forward to reading a book set in an area that I would be familiar with. I was excited to find out how much of the 'real' city would actually be in the book and truthfully, I was not disappointed. Daniel does an excellent job of bringing Miami to life with her vivid descriptions and ability to incorporate it into the book as another character instead of a mere backdrop. She is able to recreate a time and place with such ease and clarity that you can't help but imagine Frances and Dennis wandering about Coral Gables with the sun shinning down on them. However, that is all I truly enjoyed about the novel. For some reason I just did not find the characters to be engaging. Truthfully, I'm not even sure how Dennis and Frances coupled up - they are both such disconnected characters that any semblance of happiness would have escaped their notice. And I think it has to do with the fact that the book's tone is rather sad in nature. For some reason I felt a sense of loss and loneliness throughout the novel, even during times of happiness - it was as if a dark and heavy cloud hung over the story and well it left me feeling rather empty. Yet, I don't want to dismiss this book as a don't read, because I really did enjoy reading about Miami and Stiltsville. I just wish I could have enjoyed the actual story about Dennis and Frances. And maybe its just me that felt that way about this book - after all it has been heaped with loads of praise, so perhaps there is just something I missed. Of course, I'll just chalk it up to "different strokes for different folks".
And thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of Susanna Daniel's, debut novel, Stiltsville.