I have been a fan of Angela Hunt’s novels for some time and know that no matter the setting or time frame, I can depend on her to provide me with an enjoyable reading experience. The title “Five Miles South of Peculiar” fueled my expectations for a fun and entertaining book. Although not as humorous as I had anticipated, the story had its share of quirky characters and comical situations. But interlaced with all  the fun and celebrations is a very serious treatise about relationships.

“Five Miles South of Peculiar” is the story of three sisters – 50-year-old twins Darlene and Carlene and their much younger sister Nolie (Magnolia). Carlene had left home during her senior year of high school to pursue her dream of singing on Broadway while Carlene stayed home, married, and raised a family. Nolie has never married and it is understood that everyone believes she is just not quite all there. At some point autism and OCD are even mentioned. Into that mix are added a pastor who has lost his church due to divorce and the mayor of Peculiar, Darlene’s love interest.

When Carlene returns home for Carlene’s fiftieth birthday celebration, the relationship between the once close twins is more than strained. Each of them has unresolved issues from their past but are unwilling to discuss them and clear the air. Through all the tension and mishaps, Nolie just keeps tending her huge dogs, sewing aprons to give away and dispensing her unique nuggets of wisdom to everyone she encounters. And finally they all discover that their faith has been renewed, hearts are healed and relationships are mended. Of course it is not quite that simple – a lot of ground was covered before they reached that point. You just need to read it for yourself because I don’t want to give away too much of the story.

As the eldest of three sisters and a southerner for life, I found myself easily identifying with the characters of “Five Miles South of Peculiar”. The author made the people and the place of Peculiar come to life and I was sorry when the story ended. I don’t know what she has in mind for future novels, but I for one would enjoy another visit to Peculiar.

This book was provided for review by Howard Books.


Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather’s legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home. She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores. She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforeseen detour? In a season of destiny, three unique women reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart.


Angela Hunt is the bestselling author of more than 100 books, including The Tale of Three Trees, Don’t Bet Against Me, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Her nonfiction book Don’t Bet Against Me, written with Deanna Favre, spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Angela and her husband make their home in Florida with their dogs.