Bookinista review: Twists, turns and secrets in ‘Tiny Little Thing’
If a wardrobe includes bike shorts, gimme caps and fly-fishing waders, its owner probably will be properly attired for a Vail Valley summer. But a 1960s season in Cape Cod required pillbox hats and linen skirt suits, plus a few pair of clamdiggers, particularly for Christina “Tiny” Hardcastle, protagonist of “Tiny Little Thing,” by Beatriz Williams.
Tiny and Frank Hardcastle are “beautiful people” torn apart by power and politics, infidelity and forgiveness. Frank is an up-and-coming scion from a dynasty looking to score its first senator. A roving eye complicates his future.
Tiny is from the prominent Schuyler family, a battalion of strong women (not necessarily ladies in the conservative sense) looking to score its first political doyenne. She is the perfect wife — dainty, pretty and photogenic in the early days of television — to facilitate Frank’s ascension to the White House … except that she’s tired of “being good.”
Deep, dark secrets
The story has more twists and turns than the Colorado River Road. At times, it is about as rough and dirty (reader, beware). Every character in “Tiny Little Thing” has secrets that would not engender votes.
Consider Frank’s formidable grandmother. This floral-attired powerhouse rules the roost from a chintz-covered chair, but her rosy glow might be from youthful political leanings of the Red kind.
Tiny’s sister, Penny, is a gorgeous creature with a reckless streak regarding behaviors that could ruin a woman before women’s lib liberated libidos. Collegiate Josephine, Frank’s campaign staffer, blossoms under his attention. Is she basking in reflected glory, or the blinding gift of enormous diamonds in her earlobes?
Frank’s father resembles patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy, pushing Frank and controlling Tiny while hiding the reasons he withdrew from his own political bid decades ago. Tom, Frank’s brother-in-law, becomes nasty when indulging in alcohol or marijuana — and he’s a liberal to boot! One of his favorite targets is another cousin, Captain Caspian Harrison, a wounded war hero whose talent for photography creates a huge problem for Tiny on the eve of Frank’s election.
Author Williams pegs the conversations between Tiny and Penny, which intimately and humorously represent a healthy relationship between adult sisters. The distant Schuyler matriarch eventually thwarts the Hardcastle patriarch in the best tradition of the steel magnolia stereotype, and her brief appearance is memorable. Frank Hardcastle’s patronizing attitude toward Tiny is difficult early in the book, but Williams makes him sympathetically pitiable when he finally gets what he wants.
Williams introduced the Schuylers in “The Secret Life of Violet Grant” (Putnam, 2014). Both books contain vigorous dialogue, but the variety of well-drawn female characters in “Tiny Little Thing” is especially enjoyable.
“Tiny Little Thing” isn’t a literary feast, but rather that summertime snack perfect for a bluebird day. So replace your Bravo! Vail lanyard with a strand of proper pearls, and pour your Mean Green Jungle Juice in a martini glass. You can almost smell the breezes coming in off the Atlantic with “Tiny Little Thing” in hand.
“Tiny Little Thing,” published by Putnam, is available at The Bookworm of Edwards and other fine booksellers.
Eagle County resident NLB Horton (NLBHorton.com) is an award-winning author of two successful works of international suspense, “When Camels Fly” and “The Brothers’ Keepers.” Both are available at The Bookworm of Edwards and at other booksellers, and her third novel will be released in 2016.