Among the longleaf pines and family farms of eastern North Carolina, days seem to pass without incident for Margaret Clayton and Bernice Stokes, until they discover each other in a friendship that will take them on the most important journey of their lives.
Margaret, droll and whip smart, has a will of iron that never fails her even when her body does, while Bernice, an avid country-music fan, is rarely lucid. Irreverent and brazen at every turn, they make a formidable pair at the home where they live, breaking all the rules and ultimately changing the lives of those around them.
Lorraine, their churchgoing, God-questioning nurse, both protects and provokes them while they are under her watchful eye, as her daughter, April, bright and ambitious, determinedly makes her way through medical school. Rounding out the group of unlikely and often outrageous friends is Rhonda, the Bud-swilling beautician who does the ladies' hair on her day off and whose sassy talk hides a vulnerable heart, one that finally opens to love.
Weaving this tightly knit and compelling novel in alternating chapters, each woman gets to tell her story her own way, as all five learn to reconcile troubled pasts, find forgiveness, choose hope, and relish the joy of life. Rich with irresistible characters whose uniquely musical voices overflow the pages, The Sweet By and By is a testament to the truth that the most vibrant lives are not necessarily the most visible ones.
"[T]he underlying message of the power of love and friendship resonates, as does its depiction of the way in which people leading unremarkable lives can have a tremendous impact on those around them." (Publishers Weekly)
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Great 2/3 of a book.
The first two thirds of this book was great. The characters were interesting and the narrators did a splendid job. The last third of the book the story just ran out of gas. It was almost like it was a different author. I am still glad I listened to it but wish the author would have finished the book earlier.
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