Whimsey –  1. capricious idea or notion 2. light or fanciful humour 3. something quaint or unusual

In Kaye Wilkinson Barley’s novel, Whimsey is all those things and the name of an artists’ colony on an island off the coast of Georgia.


Title: Whimsey: A Novel

Author: Kaye Wilkinson Barley

Read by: Susanna Burney

Category: Magical Realism

Audio published: Feburary 6, 2014

Rating: 2½ out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Audible | Amazon

Whimsey is a novel of southern fiction with a splash of magic and a touch of fantasy, topped with a sprinkling of humor.

The magic was already there when cigar-smoking matriarch Elizabeth Calhoun established an artist’s colony on an island off the coast of Georgia and named it Whimsey. Elizabeth’s ghost still drops in from time to time to make sure things are going as she planned. There’s also a wicked pixie named Earlene who fancies tight-fitting designer clothes and Louboutin stilettos.

Elizabeth’s grandniece, Emma Hamilton Foley, a once-promising jewelry designer who moved away from the island, now fears her talent has deserted her. Along with her four best childhood friends, she has been invited to be a resident artist at Whimsey’s new upscale gallery, Les étoiles. To join them, she’ll need to regain her talent, face the demons from her past and her feelings about Eli Tatnall, whom she loved as a girl. Will moving back to the Island of Whimsey bring the magic back?
Whimsey is a story of hope and affirmation, about families and best girlfriends, connections and feelings. It’s about the things in life that make us happy and the things that scare us to death. And the people who walk through life with us.

I want to live on Whimsey. It’s a marvelous community, filled with artists and artisans, people who care about each other and who have known each other forever. They support each other and trust each other. They marry the perfect men for them and seem to live in sunshine.

Emma has gone back to Whimsey after spending years out of town. She’s a widow and is stuck in a rut when it comes to her art. She gets all the support and inspiration she needs at Whismey and rekindles her friendship with Eli, her first, and only, love. Susanna Burney does a good job narrating the story. She sounds just a bit Southern and lets us hear Emma’s emotions, doubt and hopes.

My problem with the book, though is even thought it was nice enough to listen to, it was boring. We hear about how the town was set up, but that was ages ago. We learn about the families, then and now but nothing happens. I mean Emma rediscovers who she is, there’s one not so nice person, but even she becomes a friend in the end. It’s just all sweet and light and nice and harmless. I didn’t really care about Emma and wanted to tell her to move on at a few times. It’s a bit cheesy and predictable, but I loved the concept. I just wish the author had done more with it.

1 Comment

  • The way you made the book sound at first really captured my fancy. I love magical realism and fantasy. Thanks for reviewing in so completely. It may be worth a look as a book rather than as audio, if it is available that way.

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