“Most people never understood why Arla went and married a Bravo,” explains the resident guide-slash-gossip in the prologue to “Heart of Palm,” Laura Lee Smith’s fine, funny first novel. It’s a voice reminiscent of Richard Russo’s (think “Mohawk” and “Empire Falls”), a likable and knowing town historian who introduces us to debutante Arla Bolton, a creature so exquisite that “the world genuflected before her.”
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