When Venus Fell, by Deborah Smith

When Venus Fell by Smith Smith: Book CoverFinished 7-14-09, rating 4/5, fiction, pub.1998

And those clippings might have been all that was worth telling about Venus Arinelli.  Or about any Arinelli, I guess.  We were culturally jumbled but southern clear through by the grace of a god who obviously knows where odd people will best fit it.  Yet everyone is made up of parts and pieces of their family’s music.  The saddest thing is to forget where our songs end and our parents’ begin, because each of us plays the next note for them.

Before Gib found me, I was sinking into silence.


Venus and Ella Arinelli have been on their own for the ten years since their father died in prison where he was being held for crimes against America.  The government took everything and followed them, city to city, harassing them.  The two sisters work nightclubs as a musical duet, Venus on the piano and Ella on her violin.  Then one day an old family friend finds them and tells them about $100,000 that belongs to them, but there is a catch.

Venus, who has been taking care of her weaker sister has an understanding resentment toward the government, so when Gib Cameron shows up she is mistrustful of the ex-secret service man, even if she has dreamt of him her whole life.  Now Gib wants the sisters to come to his family’s inn in a remote, mountainous Tennessee valley to reopen the family business.  Willing to show up for the money the women find the All-American family eagerly awaiting their arrival. 

The family property has many recognizable family members and a few kooky ones and the sisters revel in the feeling of family.  It is the 30 year anniversary of their parent’s wedding on this very land, with this family and they are drawn into the family with little resistance.

This book  is the meeting of southern charm in the Cameron family and modern spunk in Venus, with her corn rows and belly ring.  At first the link between these two families seemed tenuous to me, but the story drew me in and soon I was caught up in all the family drama and everything made more sense. 

I grew to really appreciate the spunky Venus and her prickly nature.  Over the course of several months she facedthe possibility of losing her sister and a growing love for Gib and still did not lose her strong edge. 

I liked this book very much.  The story draws you in and satisfies in the end.