Plot: Charleston Green is a charming and clever novel, set in South Carolina in contemporary times. Tipsy, who has long been able to communicate with the deceased (including her chatty, opinioned grandmother) moves into a grand old house in the city following her divorce, hoping to be inspired to paint again. Tipsy’s search to rekindle her creativity also means cohabiting with—and learning from—the house’s ghostly residents. The ghost story element and the ensuing mystery that unravels, allows a familiar story of personal growth and rediscovery, to uniquely shine.
Prose: Alexander's novel features a wry, agile prose style that, while contemporary, carries an echo of a distant era. The author effectively captures the essence of an old, storied house whose troubled former tenants still exist within its walls.
Originality: As the protagonist navigates her life and career post-divorce, the ghosts inhabiting her living quarters provide a lightly spooky and darkly humorous element to the story. Eminently readable and quietly inventive, the novel’s unusual tone casts a lingering spell.
Character Development: Charleston Green is colorfully peopled by eccentric individuals, both living and deceased. Perhaps inevitably, the secondary characters and their tragic mystery can at times overshadow the protagonist and her own quest for independence and artistic fulfillment. Intriguingly, this is also a love story to Charleston and the surrounding Low Country, and the author richly establishes a distinctive sense of place.
Date Submitted: April 01, 2020
“Offsetting the drama of Tipsy’s struggle for a new life, Alexander refreshingly interjects charming humor into Tipsy’s dealings with the dead, the mental messages from the spirit of her sassy Granna, and the crazy antics of her besties who are looking for love….This southern tale of love and loss, life and death, and intricate family dynamics is like a taste of fried green tomatoes with a side of sweet tea, while sitting on the porch’s joggling board painted a deep Charleston Green.” - BookTrib
In Alexander’s lighthearted supernatural mystery, a newly single clairvoyant attempts to crack a cold case involving the ghosts that haunt her residence.
Tipsy Collins, the recently divorced mother of three, just wants to get her life in order. She’s hoping the move into an old house in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, will give her the space to figure out who she is again. The only problem? Tipsy is a clairvoyant—albeit a reluctant one. It’s an ability she’s had since childhood, though she’s learned to ignore the ghosts that she’s occasionally seen and heard since then. The house in Mount Pleasant, however, is home to two ghosts, Jane and Henry Mott, and as soon as she moves in Tipsy makes the mistake of acknowledging them. What’s more, the two ghosts are not on speaking terms. Jane claims that Henry is responsible for their deaths—that he killed Jane and then himself—but Henry insists otherwise. “Supposedly she was murdered. Perhaps I did commit suicide,” says the sensitive specter. “I have faults. Too many to name. But I’m not a murderer.” Now, in addition to trying to wrest alimony from her ex, restart her stalled career as a painter, and dip her toes back into the dating world, Tipsy needs to solve a double murder from 1923 in order to put her ghostly roommates to rest. Alexander blends the warm humor of her characters with balmy descriptions of her Southern gothic setting. Her descriptions of Tipsy’s paintings are particularly lyrical: “She blended the paints into an autumnal spectrum, tinting burnt orange to pumpkin and shading white to cream to caramel. Most of the lightest tones went to his shirt and skin. A gradual fade of auburn to russet brown in his freckles and brows and lashes eased the bright red shock of his hair.” It’s a breezy paranormal read, and yet one with more depth than the reader might expect from the premise. In Tipsy and her ghosts, Alexander finds a story about the frustrations of love and aging, as well as the weight that history places on the living, particularly, perhaps, in the South Carolina Lowcountry.
An enchanting novel of a woman finding her way out of a midlife (and mid-death) crisis.
Star Rating: 4 / 5
Charleston Green is a mystery story with a difference, a decidedly paranormal difference at that. Recently divorced artist Tipsy Collins is struggling to get back on her feet following an acrimonious split from appalling ex-husband Ayers, so she jumps at the chance to live rent-free for a few months in a house owned by her former brother-in-law Jimmy. It should be the perfect place to recover from the messy divorce and rediscover her purpose in life. There’s just one problem: the house isn’t exactly unoccupied.
For as long as she can remember, Tipsy has been able to see and talk with the dead. Now, as dead people tend to be rather self-involved and annoying, she’s done her best to ignore them (save for her Granna, whose ghost represents a comforting presence), but there’s no ignoring Jane and Henry Mott, former (and, unknown to everyone except Tipsy, current) occupiers of the house. The Motts died in mysterious circumstances back in 1923; Jane maintains that Henry murdered her and then killed himself, while Henry is certain that he would never do such a thing. Unfortunately, as neither of them can remember the fateful afternoon, they have been trapped together ever since. Helping them uncover the truth might be just the distraction that Tipsy needs…
Charleston Green is a charming story with a mystery at its heart. Tipsy is a wonderful main character. Humorous, kind, and gutsy, she doesn’t realize just how brave and resilient she really is. She’s had a lot to put up with in life (and that’s without being a reluctant psychic) and at the start of the book, she has somewhat lost her way. Ayers is a truly awful guy who thinks nothing of maligning his former wife or of getting others to spy on her. Through Tipsy’s post-marriage situation, the book sheds some surprising light on the divorce process and aftermath in South Carolina. With no alimony available and having given up her art career to raise her family, Tipsy is left in a very precarious situation when she leaves Ayers. She’s grateful to have somewhere to live, even if she does have to share it with a pair of bickering ghosts.
As for the ghosts, their strong personalities have certainly endured beyond death. For all their Southern charm and graceful manners, the late Jane and Henry Mott are both pieces of work, although they are very funny as they snipe at each other. Tipsy becomes obsessed with discovering what really happened to them and, aside from talking to their spirits, this involves having visions of their lives during the 1920s. Of course, being sucked out of time and into visions of the past poses its own problems, and Tipsy’s former in-laws become more convinced than ever that she’s a disgrace and an unfit mother. Luckily, she has her children, some good friends, and even a potential new love interest to help her navigate the situation. Wrapping up the mystery of the Motts’ deaths should help her to rediscover her self-belief and to wrap up a few loose ends in her own life, too.
With Charleston Green, Stephanie Alexander has crafted a delightfully cozy mystery that, despite not being without peril, is a fun and pleasurable read. The baddies are nicely awful, while the goodies are warm, funny, and resourceful. There’s an intriguing puzzle to be solved as well as life lessons to be learned, and it’s very entertaining to follow the escapades of the various characters, both alive and dead.
Communicating with the dead is not on her list of things to do, but in Charleston Green Tipsy discovers that her new home harbors unexpected guests whose union is not only stormy, but creates a special posthumous angst because wife Jane believes Henry killed her and then himself...an accusation Henry vehemently denies. 'Psychic investigator' was also not a role Tipsy expected to play, but as she's drawn into the history of Jane and Henry's dilemma, she probes not only the circumstances of their deaths but their personalities, secrets, and motivations. Stephanie Alexander does an outstanding job of not only outlining a mystery and the dilemma of a psychic who would rather not imbibe in the problems of the afterlife as she faces her own relationship and family dilemmas, but who finds her own psyche buffeted by too many emotional entanglements. Tipsy is a struggling artist who never gets the time to fully realize her talents, she's broke, and she's on edge because the everyday world and her psychic connections keep colliding, especially around Henry's techno-puzzles. As she struggles to maintain equilibrium with new beau Will and forge a new life for herself, she comes to find that her future happiness is intrinsically tied just to not her own past, but her ability to uncover the truth about Henry and Jane. Stephanie Alexander's story holds other strong features: a wry sense of observational humor, encounters with other ghosts where she can make a difference (such as freeing young Luisa from her haunting ways), and handling cantankerous twins. Readers will appreciate Alexander's attention to detail, drama, and the interactions and concerns of both worlds, and will find the mystery woven into the story a nice icing on the descriptions of Tipsy's life. It would be a shame to limit Charleston Green to either readers of psychic fiction or mystery fans. These audiences, as well as historical fiction readers and those who want a romp through life and the influences of afterlife, will find Charleston Green a thoroughly engrossing saga.
I am always on the lookout for exciting new writers, and once I started reading Charleston Green by Stephanie Alexander, I was captivated. This novel leaves the reader entranced; the writing is skillful and clever and funny. I highly recommend this book.
Charleston Green is a work of women’s fiction penned by author Stephanie Alexander. Accessible to all readers with only one short scene of mild violence, this enjoyable tale mixes speculative and paranormal elements with relationship drama and family strife. Our protagonist is Tipsy Collins, a divorcee with three children, who is plagued by both an irritating ex-husband and the power to communicate with the dead. In her new house on Bennett Street, Tipsy discovers that couple Jane and Henry Mott are haunting the abode and that their martial arguments revolve around not being able to remember if one of them killed the other. So begins an intriguing and heartfelt drama.
The dual plot strands of the adorable characters in author Stephanie Alexander’s novel are sure to keep readers turning pages from cover to cover. For a story about ghosts and hauntings and custody battles, the air of the piece is wonderfully light for the most part and this is a genuinely enjoyable drama that uplifts as it unfolds. Alexander’s narration is filled with Southern charm and realistically drawn characters, and Tipsy, in particular, is a highly likable heroine who finds herself in the wake of some tough challenges as the plot twists and turns around her. I personally enjoyed the presentation of the genius-like Henry Mott the most, and the surprising conclusion to his and Jane’s plot. Overall, Charleston Green is a highly entertaining and enjoyable read for fans of women’s fiction; a cozy clairvoyant mystery and family saga.
Impressively original and solidly entertaining from beginning to end, "Charleston Green" clearly showcases author Stephanie Alexander's genuine flair for deftly crafted fantasy fiction that will completely engage the reader's full and appreciative attention. Fully on par with the Thorne Smith "Topper" novels, "Charleston Green" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections.