The Big Beautiful by Pamela Duncan: Book Review

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Cover of The Big Beautiful by Pamela Duncan

4 Stars

Cassandra Moon, firmly in her 40s, is finally getting married. She’s been taking care of others all her life and now she’s looking forward to having someone else take care of her for a change. All she has to do is walk down the aisle and say “I do.” So why does she find herself in her wedding dress, driving like a bat out of hell in the honeymoon limo and heading for the coast, still a single woman? She must be crazy.

She ends up staying with her Aunt May and Uncle Walton in Salter Path, NC. She loved visiting there as a child and she’s hoping to get some time to herself to figure out what she really wants. Everyone else is always telling her what she should want and she’s tired of it. She just needs some downtime to get things straight in her own heart and mind.

I have enjoyed all of Pamela Duncan’s books but this one is my favorite. Cassandra first showed up in Moon Women. In my review of that book, I wrote, “Poor Cassandra. I wasn’t entirely happy with her story, but there’s a glimmer of hope for her. I’ll have to dive into The Big Beautiful soon to see how she ends up.” I am much happier with her story now. She does a lot of growing up and thinking and gets a stronger backbone. I want to start praising her to the skies but I don’t want to spoil anything. Her development and her reactions all felt real and right. She has a great big heart and I think she finally starts to focus on her strengths and blessings rather than her shortcomings. I just love books where women make that journey successfully.

The other characters in the book were a hoot! Aunt May and Doris were hilarious. They sparred all the time but their love for each other was apparent. Uncle Walton was wisely quiet and always there. Young Annie Laurie gave Cassandra someone to love on and look out for. Dennis and Hector were good foils for each other and for Cassandra. When I wasn’t irritated with this bunch right along with Cassandra, I was wishing I could meet them in real life. They felt like family.

I loved the location! My family used to go on vacation every summer to Emerald Isle, NC and Salter Path is just up the island from there. I have a lot of great memories of that little town and long summer days with my extended family. It brought a smile to my face when I realized where Cassandra was.

The family and friends have formed a book/poker club (don’t ask) and they read Persuasion with Cassandra. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that I love Captain Wentworth. There are parallels between spinster Anne Elliot and Cassandra. And there’s a scene where the book club is reading “The Letter” out loud. I melt inside whenever I think of that letter. This isn’t a huge part of the book but it only added to my enjoyment.

It helps a little to have read Moon Women before reading The Big Beautiful but I don’t feel that it’s necessary. If you do read them out of order, you’ll come across some spoilers if you’re really paying attention. Since the focus has shifted to the family on the coast, you would really have to have a good head for characters to really remember and connect them together though.

I highly, highly recommend this book. It was a joy to read and it left me with a huge smile on my face.

As an aside, I’ll add that I had the pleasure of meeting Pamela Duncan a few years ago at a small local book festival. She was very nice and funny and to this day she’s my favorite of the authors I’ve met. If she’s ever anywhere near you, go see her.

My reviews of Moon Women and Ms. Duncan’s other book, Plant Life.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Pamela Duncan on her website.

Buy The Big Beautiful at


Southern Literature Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader


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  1. This sounds like a really fun read. At first, I wasn't sure I could like a character who runs away from their own wedding, but the fact that you think she grows throughout the story made me change my mind. I also have a hard time saying no to funny supporting characters in a romance 🙂

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