Monday, August 12, 2013

HFVBT: Review of The Bequest of Big Daddy by Jo-Ann Costa

The Bequest of Big Daddy

by JoAnn Costa

Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Koehler Books
Paperback; 280p
ISBN:  978-1-938467-27-1

Ratio Janson is the crusty patriarch with an infamous background and a hair-trigger temper, reverently referred to as Big Daddy by his family clan. His feisty great-granddaughter, Jo-Dee, overhears shocking gossip at Big Daddy's funeral and is determined to plumb his murky past, spanning the Civil War, Reconstruction and forging head-on into the twentieth century.

From a vast turpentine industry to the ruins of a decaying plantation with its feudal order a memory, Jo-Dee explores the complex nature of family and self, only to make a startling discovery. Will she betray her great-grandfather and disgrace the family name, or will she preserve his shameful secret? And on the ancient grounds of the family mansion destroyed in the Civil War, will Big Daddy's spirit claim her even from the grave?


“Costa’s expressive voice effortlessly guides the compelling story… Costa’s debut novel tells the engaging story of a man whose tumultuous life provides an even greater tale than the grand myths that surround him.” — Kirkus Reviews

 “Anyone who enjoys Southern fiction or picaresque novels will love this one!” — Lisa Alther, Author of four New York Times bestsellers

 “All families have secrets, some darker than others. In her richly imagined debut novel, Jo-Ann Costa explores the impact of one family’s secret down through the decades and generations. The Bequest of Big Daddy marks the arrival of a fresh new voice in Southern literature.” — Will Allison, Author of the New York Times bestseller Long Drive Home.

“Ms. Costa writes like she was born to the craft. Wonderful storytelling and memorable characters you won’t soon forget. Big Daddy is not just any character—he gets into your head and refuses to budge.” — Hillel Black, former Publishing Executive and Editor of twenty New York Times bestsellers

Jo-Ann Costa’s Bequest is part gothic, part adventure, part mystery and wholly satisfying. Move over Tennessee Williams, there is a new Big Daddy in town.” — Claire Matturro, Award-winning author of three bestsellers

“Costa is a skilled storyteller who draws the reader into the Southern world.” — The Durango Herald

 “On a scale of one to five I would easily give this one a six, because it’s just that good!” — WV Stitcher, Blogger

About the Author

Jo-Ann Costa studied her craft at the knees of her clannish Alabama kin, who are among the most accomplished at fabricating outlandish tales. Thus trained as a storyteller, Ms. Costa honed her compelling voice while serving in executive roles for a mega-corporation founded by the late Howard Hughes.

Along with the wildlife, Ms. Costa now makes her home at the edge of Colorado's Weminuche wilderness, where she writes historical fiction and mysteries. She is a graduate of California State University, the University of Southern California's Managerial Policy Institute, Leadership Southern California and the Public Affairs Institute. She also studied at the UCLA Writers’ Extension Program.

The Bequest of Big Daddy is the first book in her epic saga, Longleaf Legacy.

My thoughts:

The Bequest of Big Daddy offers the reader a magnificent peek into the workings of a Southern family patriarch.  Big Daddy is one of those swearing, fear inspiring relatives many of us who have been raised in the South remember with both nostalgia and regret.  Big Daddy was born Horatio “Ratio” Janson and lives many more lives than one.  He experiences parental neglect, is wrongfully charged with a heinous crime, experiences the love of a good wife but ultimately does the unforgiveable.  While Big Daddy is inspirational as a survivor of many tempests he is certainly not without horrible faults.

I appreciated Costa’s ability to create characters so human and yet so complex.  I suppose the ultimate compliment would be that several of the characters found within The Bequest of Big Daddy truly brought to mind several members of my family as I remembered them from childhood.  Costa vividly brings to life the tension, turmoil, triumph and tragedy of the Deep South from Reconstruction to the present day.

I found The Bequest of Big Daddy an engaging read and enjoyed the novel initially as a look into the history of the South but primarily as an exquisitely crafted character study.  I would recommend The Bequest of Big Daddy without hesitation.

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received a free trade paperback edition of this book from the author and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I was in no way compensated for this post, and the thoughts are my own.

For the complete tour schedule CLICK HERE
Twitter Hashtag: #BigDaddyTour

This review qualifies for the following challenges:
Historical Fiction Book Review #29

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