A Light on the Veranda

Written by Ciji Ware
Review by Jo Ann Butler

Daphne Duvallon must choose whether to play harp at her brother’s wedding in Natchez, Tennessee, or in her chamber ensemble’s Lincoln Center debut. She is fired when she opts to play in Natchez, but this frees Daphne to remain in her hometown. There she performs with an all-female jazz ensemble, and meets a rugged and charming nature photographer, Simon Hopkins.

Ciji Ware creates a seductive world in her romance novel, A Light on the Veranda, an atmosphere which brings Simon and Daphne together but also draws Daphne back to her past. She begins having visions – triggered by her harps’ vibrations – of her ancestor, Daphne Whitaker, a talented harpist raised in haphazard fashion by a depressed mother and an abusive father.

As Daphne learns more about the desperately unhappy life of her namesake ancestor, she realizes that they are living near-parallel lives. The Daphne of 1820 is also courted by Simon Hopkins, but they are separated by tragic circumstances. Must the 21st-century Daphne and Simon follow their ancestors’ footsteps and remain forever apart?

I enjoyed seeing Ciji Ware’s “Harp Honey” find love with Simon Hopkins, but then watch him fly off on adventurous assignments – will they ever find time for each other? It was also a great deal of fun watching Ware’s heroine expand emotionally and professionally as she embraces jazz. Perhaps Daphne’s singing debut was a bit too perfect, but after all, this is the world of romance, where women can find their true voices in a single glowing moment, just as they can find the perfect man taking photographs in their own backyard.