Belle, 2002, 14.95, 320 pp.
Though it is February, Odd Alice swims the icy waters of Lake Riley high in the Georgia Mountains as if it is a summer day. Her idyllic watery solace ends with a splash and a vision. She rescues a child who fell into the lake and Griffin Randolph, the treasure seeker starring in her vision who faces death from an underwater explosion near Spain until just Alice pleaded with him to breath.
Because the child she saved is related to the Governor, Alice becomes a publicized hero with the Bonaviendier siblings attending the ceremony and claiming she is one of them. They prove their contention as they share the same webbed feet. Alice visits the three sisters at their Sainte's Point Island home where she also meets Griffin. As Alice begins to learn about her mermaid heritage, she and Griffin fall in love, but their families have been feuding for quite awhile as landlubbers and water people have never mixed.
ALICE AT HEART is a tremendous opening book of what appears to be the beginnings of a long delightful series starring the residents of Sainte's Point and the across the bay town of Bellemeade. The story line predominately focuses on a first person account by Alice, but does switch to third person accounts of other prime players deftly handled by Deborah Smith so that the audience obtains a deeper understanding of the cast. Though the tale suffers from the first novel syndrome of introducing the entire universe in one sitting, Ms. Smith provides a powerful and absorbing novel that at its heart is simply fun to read.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner