REVIEW: THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END, BY PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY

Bonny Blankenship’s most treasured memories are of idyllic summers spent in Watersend, South Carolina, with her best friend, Lainey McKay. Amid the sand dunes and oak trees draped with Spanish moss, they swam and wished for happy-ever-afters, then escaped to the local bookshop to read and whisper in the glorious cool silence. Until the night that changed everything, the night that Lainey’s mother disappeared.

Now, in her early fifties, Bonny is desperate to clear her head after a tragic mistake threatens her career as an emergency room doctor, and her marriage crumbles around her. With her troubled teenage daughter, Piper, in tow, she goes back to the beloved river house, where she is soon joined by Lainey and her two young children. During lazy summer days and magical nights, they reunite with bookshop owner Mimi, who is tangled with the past and its mysteries. As the three women cling to a fragile peace, buried secrets and long ago loves return like the tide.

My Thoughts: Bonny’s journey back to Watersend would resurrect old memories, secrets, and the pain of the past, but it would also remind her of the magic she always felt there. And she needs that magic now, just after a tragedy in her job as an ER doctor leaves her floundering.

With Piper still healing from a broken relationship, the two of them wait and are soon joined by Lainey, who has her own wounds from the past. The pain of the summer that her mother went missing. For years she has searched, but to no avail. The art she creates helps her express the pain and communicate to those who see it.

Owen, Lainey’s brother, is the love Bonny has longed for ever since those days in Watersend, but the more they draw together, the more they seem to part. Owen’s urges take him on journeys that she cannot follow. Adventures that help him push away the pain of the past.

Mimi, as the owner of the bookshop, is the source of all wisdom to Bonny, Lainey, and especially Piper. She offers a refuge, some suggestions that feel like treasures, and, in the end, she has the answers to some very deep questions.

How do Mimi and her friend Loretta fill in some gaps for Lainey? What will Piper find in the small town that will heal the wounds of loss? Will Owen finally come to stay, or will he constantly be on the move again? What does Bonny decide about the old life she left behind in Charleston?

Multiple narrators carry us along in The Bookshop at Water’s End and fill in the missing pieces of their stories. A beautifully wrought tapestry combining art, medicine, and books…the stories would offer meaning and magic for their souls. 5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publishers via NetGalley

 

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REVIEW: LOST LAKE, BY SARAH ADDISON ALLEN

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After sleepwalking through the year following her husband Matt’s death, Kate Pheris is ready to escape her Atlanta home, which she has just sold. Devin, her eight-year-old daughter needs a change, too, so instead of moving in with her mother-in-law Cricket, as planned, Kate impulsively jumps in the car and heads to Lost Lake.

While clearing out for the move, she had found an old postcard from her great-aunt Eby (one her mother apparently kept from her), and suddenly wants to reconnect. Her last time at the summer camp, when she was twelve, was when she last felt free and happy.

Meanwhile, at the retreat, Eby is pondering her own changes. A developer has repeatedly approached her about selling, and since she would need a lot of money to fix things up, just to continue, she has verbally agreed to do so. Plus, they haven’t had a lot of guests lately.

Lost Lake is a lovely, magical tale about nostalgic moments, the past connections that remind us of love lost, and hope for a different kind of future.

Devin is a delightful character who sees the magic in her surroundings, and her quest for an “alligator box” keeps things interesting. Eby thinks of her past and her great love, George, who has passed on. Selma and Bulahdeen, two elderly women who come every year, have their own unique stories to share. Then there is Lisette, whom Eby saved years before when she jumped from a bridge in a suicide attempt. Lisette doesn’t talk…her notes are her means of communication. She has “ghost-like” conversations with someone sitting in a special kitchen chair.

What memorable moments from Kate’s past remind her that she is finally where she needs to be? What role did a local man, Wes, have in Kate’s past, and will he help her find a future?

Recommended for those who enjoy magical tales with just enough reality to make the story believable, I give this book 4.5 stars.

WAITING ON WEDNESDAY — LITTLE BLACK DRESS — JULY 6

 

 

Welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Today I’d like to spotlight a book that will be released on August 23:  Little Black Dress, by Susan McBride.

“Written with touching insight into family relationships, Little Black Dress is a lovely and entertaining journey into the magical side of things.”
(Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times Bestselling Author of THE PEACH KEEPER)

“With sparkle and wit, Susan McBride crafts both a family saga of painful secrets and a modern story of a woman who thinks she’s got it all under control — until everything she thought she knew blows apart. Little Black Dress is a beguiling story of fate, love, and magic.” (Kristina Riggle, author of Things We Didn’t Say )

“LITTLE BLACK DRESS is a luminous story filled with magic and hope. I loved this tender, touching and enchanting saga about the unique bond of mothers, daughters and sisters.” (Ellen Meister )

“Susan McBride’s LITTLE BLACK DRESS sparkles with magic! It’s part love story, part mystery, part family saga, all wrapped together in the wonder of an amazing little dress that will leave you crying and cheering. I loved this book!”– (Judy Merrill Larsen, author of ALL THE NUMBERS )

 

So now I just have to wait.  Waiting is hard.  In the meantime, maybe the rest of you could stop by and share your WOW choices.