Set during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA two women come together, not realizing that in a short time, the secrets of betrayal and temptations they’ve held and kept will one day bind them together in a way that neither could have ever expected.
Arriving at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, Joanna is hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed. And her mother-in-law Susannah, is not someone who makes Joanna feel welcome. Too many women in a house that has seen too much tragedy and heartache and kept too many secrets.
It was touted as a historical based on the titans of the steel-boom era, namely Bethlehem Steel, but it turned out to be more than that in what I would describe as women’s fiction. Joanna has had to give up the house and home she had lived in with her husband and two children to move into the families humongous ancestral home. Living with her husband’s grandmother and mother who had held the title of mistress of that home. It made Joanna feel somewhat non-essential. Everything was taken care of by numerous family retainers who Joanna felt had more claim to the home than she would ever have.
Feeling somewhat neglected Joanna fell into the habit of spending her time in the nearby cemetery where she made friends with the quirky cemetery keepers and their enigmatic grandson. She also discovered the tiny gravestone of baby “Hayes” whom she wanted to uncover the mystery of who he was and why no one had claimed it to give him a name.
*** The book started slowly and to be honest, it was something I struggled with, but slowly the story started to make more sense as the author kept up the past and present theme of Susannah’s and Joanna’s life. Both would discover that their lives were similar but different. The characters were well defined, the pace did pick up, and it was a pretty good summer read.
Thanks to Net Galley for providing me the ARC of this book for an honest review.
Published June 4th 2019 by Berkley Books Rating: 5*.
I am sorry to say that this was my first experience in reading this author’s work, but after this taste of her prose, visualization and emotional pull on my very soul, it will not be the last. What a blessing it is to discover an author who can write such a moving and relatable tale with such insight into the aftermath of both the protagonists aching hearts.
It was ten years ago, when Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina. After coming to terms with broken heart she reinvented herself in New York City. Now as a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home – until she learns of her dad’s failing health.
Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade. But she can’t ignore her brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift and the brunt of watching his father slowly succumb to the despicable disease of Alzheimer’s. Seeing firsthand how their father’s memories are slipping away, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. While doing the research into her father’s life and memories, some inaccuracies started to unfold which lead Lena to discover the truth of what set her apart from her best friend and sister even before the betrayal of the wedding day disaster.
I admit to being easily and emotionally moved and truthfully I had to put this book down several times before I could continue reading because of the tears that came to my eyes. However, I wouldn’t have missed the chance to experience this story and thank God that I had the opportunity to read and review! Excellent and brilliant!
How many times have you uttered or thought the words, I hate you I wish you were dead about a parent? Well most teens might have that reaction when the words “NO” were uttered when you really thought you were in the right and the parent was stupid and didn’t understand. However for Emma / Lillianna these were thoughts and words she spoke and thought for most of her life against a father whom she basically didn’t understand. But when it came down to it, would Emma / Lilliana be able to refuse to see or forgive a man who she blamed for what she considered her horrible childhood?
For the last twenty years Lilliana Fergusson pretended her father was dead. She moved to Oregon—far away from her childhood home in Delaware—changed her name from Emma to Lillianna and vowed after her mother died to never go home. But then her brother, Greg, phoned, begging her to come back to help care for their father who had been diagnosed with a dangerous, aortic aneurysm. Again Lilliana is adamant in her refusal. When did her father, ever take care of her?
Speaking to her husband after refusing her brother, Lilliana was convinced that yes, it was her decision, and yet maybe she needed to give herself one last chance before regrets would be all she had left.
Lilliana’s father, Calvin Miller, was a disabled WWII veteran. He had survived a grenade explosion that killed his best friend and took off most of his right hand as well as leaving him with osteomyelitis in his leg, a bone-destroying infection, that refused to heal. His surgeon believes Calvin’s only chance for survival is amputation of his leg before trying to fix the aneurysm. Would Lillianna be able to put to rest the hatred she’d held for the father she ran from twenty years prior and would some of that healing fold over to herself as she learned about the life her father had lived. Can she leave her safe life and reenter the minefield of her childhood?
Exceptional writing and hard to put down – Highly recommended.