'For God's Sake, Amanda! That man ruined our lives!'
That's what Nan would say if I asked her. That's what Nan always said when I asked her.
'Amanda Darby has been living with her grandmother since she was two years old. If not for one horrific twist of fate she might have grown up in New Orleans instead of Sydney. She might have been Amandine Lalande instead of Amanda Darby. She might have known her parents.
Nothing can change what happened to 'that man' and her mother, but when tragedy strikes again - devastating and unexpected - a link to her parents' life on the other side of the world is exposed. The American family Amanda thought dead to her have been seeking her for years. Travelling to New Orleans Amanda, finds a vibrant city of contrasts. There's jazz, burlesque, ghost stories and shocking burial rites. But nothing is as astonishing as mysterious Grandma Ruby and the tale of forbidden love she reveals to Amanda during candlelit nights in the grand old Lalande mansion. Could this demure woman of impeccable Creole heritage have loved and lost and carried a burning secret from the troubled 1950s till now?
Before Amanda can make sense of Ruby's double life, long-feared Hurricane Katrina hits. The city is battered and neighbourhoods cut off, and Amanda risks losing not only the family she has just found, but friends who have stolen her heart. Amid the chaos and disaster of the storm of the century, she must save Ruby and find out truths that have lain potent but hidden for generations.
'Southern Ruby is a sweeping story of love, passion, family and honour. Alternating in time between the 1950s and the eve of Hurricane Katrina, it is also a tribute to a city heady with music, drama, history and superstition, which has borne the tumults of race and class and the fury of nature, but has never given up hope.' (Publication summary)