Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reviewing....What Follows After...Suspensefully Good Story!

What Follows After, by Dan Walsh is a novel with enough suspense to keep you turning those pages. Set in 1962, it is about the perfect dysfunctional family, but '60s style.  The story coincides with the Cuban Missile Crisis, a scary memory from my childhood.

Back in the days of black and white television broadcasts and neighbors building fallout shelters our seemingly simple lifestyles were just as stressful as they are today.  Husbands went to work to get ahead and the wives stayed at home and raised the children in most households. In the case of Scott and Ginny Harrison, they had been secretly separated for a year but kept it a secret from all but their two children, Colt and Timmy. For holidays and birthdays they kept up the charade, meeting up and driving to family gatherings in the same car.  This all came of Ginny walking in on Scott kissing, or so she "saw" one of the young secretaries at a Christmas party. No amount of explanations that followed could salvage the marriage.

 Ginny had had enough of deceiving the families; she was ready to move one. The boys had enough. The boys though, came up with the best plan to resolve the issue....leave their Florida home and go to their favorite aunt and uncle's home in Savannah, Georgia, alone on a bus. Things worked out great until Colt left Timmy for a few moments only to find him leaving with a stranger on another bus.

What follows is a heart wrenching nightmare no parent wants to face. This journey to find Timmy takes everyone into places they would have gladly avoided and forces them all to confront what went wrong in their lives. This story is full of the long shots in life that only faith and love can get us through. Will things turn out well? I cannot tell you without spoiling the story. I will say though, that Dan Walsh is very good at character development. I enjoyed reading this book and looked forward to each chapter...I hope you will too. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sincerely Yours....Four Times the Fun

I read a new volume of novellas titled Sincerely Yours written by Jane Kirkpatrick, Amanda Cabot, Laurie Alice Eakes and Ann Shorey.  I like the format of the novella; shorter than a novel but longer than a short story. The stories in this book have one thing in common: a letter received that can forever change the life of the one who receives it.

Moonlight Promise by Laurie Alice Eakes is about a young woman from England who lost her rank and fortune and came to America to begin a new life. America offers much at a time when the Erie Canal is about to open, offering a pathway to the unsettled west. Camilla, the heroine, misses her connection and is short on funds when she literally jumps aboard the Marianne, raising the ire of one Captain Nathaniel Black who'd just as soon toss her overboard than provide safe passage to find her friends. Raised as a lady with no skills to make her way, she is surprised at the gifts she receives on this ride to her new life. The captain is beset with troubles of his own as he fights to keep the Marianne and secure his future. He has no use for women and it is a wonder how he allowed Camilla to remain on board. The surprises do unfold though and there are twists that kept me turning pages until the end. 
Lessons in Love by Ann Shorey tells of M.M. Bentley, a marriage advice columnist applying for the weekly newspaper. The arrangement is a happy one until the columnist receives a letter from the editor who wants to meet Mr. Bentley and offer him a permanent assignment for the paper.  The letter was a dream come true for Marigold Montgomery Bentley, who is a young, single woman. Marigold (Merrie) quickly enlists her piano teacher, Colin Thackery to act as her husband, so that she can keep writing for the paper. What follows is a warm hearted story of a time of calling cards, debutantes and balls. Ann Shorey is very good at writing about independent spirited young women, and Merrie is no exception.

One Little Word  by Amanda Cabot is a good story about mistaken identity and how sometimes first impressions can be misleading. Lorraine Caldwell, our heroine stands to lose her fortune if she misses a deadline for marriage and the only prospect is a man that makes her skin crawl. She receives her letter from her  brother, whom she feared dead asking her to come to him by train for some important news. She jumps at the chance to see him  and makes a hasty trip to Lilac Hall.  Lorraine is met at the station by one Jonah Mann, an English carousel artist.  I love historical fiction and this one gave me good insight  into carousels. Fictional Jonah trained under Charles Looff, the renowned carousel carver and creator of the carousel I have ridden on since childhood in Spokane Washington. I loved the history that is interspersed in this story. The next time I go downtown for a ride I plan to take a closer look at the horses he carved so lovingly.

A Saving Grace by Jane Kirkpatrick is a story of friendship. Friendship stemming from the Dalles Oregon to a desolate health clinic on the Puget Sound of Washington State.  Grace Hathaway receives her letter from 8 year old Caroline asking Grace to find her mother, Grace's friend Rebecca. Rebecca was despondent after the drowning death of her husband and after a time, she entered a secluded sanatorium  run by Dr. Linda Hazzard. Dr. Hazzard and her husband offer special treatments that promise to restore health.  Grace intends to visit Rebecca and have her come back to Oregon with her.  Grace meets Mr. Milliken at her hotel and discovers he is surrounded by mystery and a connection to the Sanatorium. This is a story of bittersweet courage on Grace's part in persisting in the challenge of helping her friend Rebecca find her way back to Caroline. After reading this story I looked up Dr. Linda Hazzard and her clinic in Olalla Washington. I am always amazed to learn of things that happened in our state long ago that seem like they couldn't happen but did happen.

I look forward to reading more books by each of these authors.