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In Polite Company

Gervais Hagerty


William Morrow, pb., 368 pp.

"This terrific debut lifts the veil on the charming old city of Charleston and a prominent Lowcountry family to deliver an entertaining story about becoming yourself without totally rejecting your past. Plus: debutante balls! I loved this novel.” —Lauren Weisberger, The Devil Wears Prada

A captivating debut novel that looks inside the private lives of Charleston aristocracy, where a former debutante learns that sometimes good behavior leads to bad decisions.

Tourists think they see the real Charleston, but there’s more to this popular travel destination than sweet tea and Southern hospitality. Behind the walled gardens of the fabled historic homes live Charleston’s elite. Simons Smythe was born into this powerful network that has quietly ruled the city for centuries, and she’s waking to its arrogance.

Her family has a banner year ahead. In October, her older sister will give birth to her second child. In November, her younger sister will make her debut—a series of cocktail parties and balls to introduce her to society. And the following May, Simons is due to marry Trip; she hopes a year is enough time to fall back in love.

Simons produces the news at a local TV station. A judge—a family friend—was taken to jail and released just hours later with no charge. Airing the full story of this prominent local strains Simons’s relationship with her family. Calling off the wedding jeopardizes those ties even more.

On her days out of the office, Simons surfs the waves of Folly Beach, crabs the salty rivers of Edisto Island, and follows her wayward heart to King Street bars. She also visits her grandmother and confidante, Laudie. They were born with the same traits: wide-set eyes and a rebellious nature, but something happened to Laudie in her youth that crushed her spirit. Since then, she’s harbored a secret. It’s stamped in the soles of her Capezio dancing shoes; it’s coiled into her low ballerina bun. A dramatic turn of events threatens Laudie’s life—and her ability to tell Simons what really happened long ago.

About the Author:

Gervais Hagerty grew up in Charleston. She earned her B.A. in psychology from Vanderbilt University. After a post-college stint in Southern California, she returned to the east coast, where she worked as a news reporter and producer for both radio and television broadcasts.

In 2013, she earned her M.B.A. from The Citadel and soon after became a professor, where she taught Leadership Communications. As the director of Patricia McArver Public Speaking Lab, she coached students, faculty, and staff to become effective speakers. She also advised the college's public speaking club.

She is a board member of The Charleston Council for International Visitors and serves on Charleston's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

She lives in Charleston with her husband and daughters. In Polite Companyis her first novel.

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