Harper’s Moon is a nice cross between a romance novel and women’s fiction. It’s more of a romance because the main point of the book is the relationship between Jud Harper and Annie Taylor, but there are many secondary characters and a substantial portion of the book is devoted to the unravelling of the character of Annie’s abusive husband Tom. Still, the love store does carry most of the weight of the book, and it is a heartwarming one.
Annie Taylor lives the life of a rich Manhattan socialite. She is married to a prominent Wall Street executive who provides her with clothing, jewelry and all the luxuries one could imagine. Annie also is a quilter – a maker of fabric art pieces that command high prices in boutiques. But Annie’s husband Tom is a vicious man. He is quite simply a woman-hater and Annie walks on pins and needles trying to please him. One day, after he beat her yet again and this time became sexually aroused by it, Annie has had enough. She takes her quilt money, some pieces of jewelry and her old car and takes off.
Annie’s car breaks down in Burnsville, North Carolina. Before she knows it, she has rented a small cottage there and plans to hide out, rest and decide how to confront Tom. Even though she tries to hide and be totally invisible, Annie is drawn into the life of Burnsville by the friendly people there. When she asks for help to clear her blocked chimney, someone tells her to ask her neighbor, Young Jed.
Jed is an incredibly handsome and charming 40 year old man who turns out to be the local poor boy who made good. Jed Harper’s family were, to put it bluntly, trash. As soon as he could he took off and by hard work and talent became a successful travel writer with a Pulitzer Prize and several best sellers under his belt. Jed has wandered for years – stopping only to settle down for a time, write a book and then he’s off on a new adventure. Jed is swiftly drawn to his new neighbor and senses that she is troubled. He gradually wins her trust and then her love – but can this footloose man settle down?
Jed and Annie were both wonderfully likable characters. Even though I knew that they would eventually get together, I found myself fascinanted by their journey. Jed finally realizes that committment does not mean his life will be stifled and Annie finds in him someone to love and someone who respects her – a welcome balm to her fragile soul.
The sub-plot involving Annie’s husband Tom was not quite as successful. Judson made him so loathsome that he almost became a caricature. For instance, Tom constantly looked down on Annie’s quilts even though they sold for very high prices and the president of the firm for which he worked made it clear on several occasions that he was quite impressed by them. Since Tom was presented as such a driven-to-succeed kind of man, don’t you think he would have looked on Annie’s success as helping him too? But he was presented as such a misogynist that it defined him to the exclusion of all other qualities.
Still, I enjoyed this book. The small-town atmosphere was very well done and, as I said, I really liked Annie and Jed. Even Annie’s quilting was realistically described. If you have a friend who is fond of women’s fiction and whom you would like to introduce to romance, Harper’s Moon would be the perfect book to give her. It neatly combines the best of both worlds.