By Barbara Davis
Author’s Website: http://www.barbaradavis-author.com/index.html
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
From the author of Summer at Hideaway Key comes a sweeping new Southern women’s fiction novel about forgiving the past one letter at a time…
The truth lies between the lines…
A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come.
Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story.
As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future.
All I have to say is that I am very glad I persevered. The beginning was (at least for me) very difficult, it seemed to drag on and I just was not engaged. But I kept on reading and finally I became so totally captivated it was difficult to put the book down.
Dovie visits her fiancés grave daily, trying to understand why William committed suicide a few weeks before their wedding. On this particular day, Dovie takes note of an older woman visiting the grave of Alice Tandy. This woman leaves a letter when she departs. Dovie is intrigued…so she picks up the letter and against her better judgement, takes and reads the letter.
“The right thing – the decent and respectful thing = would be to put it back where she found it. Unread. And yet the need to know what it contained continued to gnaw. What harm could there be in appeasing her curiosity, in seeking some thread of insight in the words of a fellow sufferer? The girl was dead, after all, the old woman a stranger she wasn’t likely to ever see again.”
Now Dovie wants to know the story behind the woman’s pleas for forgiveness. This leads to Dovie obtaining further letters that were at the cemeteries’ lost and found that had been written by Alice. What did all these letters say and why is Alice buried among the Tate family plots? Dovie is now hooked and will not let this go.
Along the way Dovie must work with (though reluctantly) Austin Tate. He is sponsoring a gala, which should produce much needed funding for the Charleston Museum of Cultural Arts. Handsome man, good looking woman….sparks fly. And boy do they fly. If two people could misinterpret the actions of another – it is these two. But time allows them to develop their relationship. The journey is bumpy, but well worth the read. I definitely go a good chuckle when they went for dinner at Theda’s family restaurant.
The story of Alice Tandy is told through the letters that were at the cemetery, her trials and tribulations with being an unwed mother in England in the sixties. The reader learns of the atrocities that befall a young girl when forced to live and work for the Catholic Church at the Blackhurst Asylum for Unwed Mothers (commonly referred to as the “Magdalene Laundries”), where unwed mothers were forced to work and live in horrific conditions and then give up their babies once born. I must say, the Author’s Note on this was very powerful and enlightening…so don’t skip that!
Alice makes it her mission to find her child once she is able to leave the asylum, not even knowing whether she had a boy or a girl. Alice’s letters are poignant and at times quite depressing. Alice learns which adoption agency placed her baby and embarks upon a journey that becomes her life’s mission – to find her baby. All the way to Charleston, South Carolina.
The story of Alice and her child, Dovie and her fiancés life and death, and the people in their lives (Austin, Dora, Mrs. Tate, Kristopher and Josiah) is well told and intriguing. Without giving anything away, how can people treat each other the way they do? It is a captivating read which I recommend.