I recently read Becoming Mrs Lewis by Patti Callahan (Henry) and I fell in love with that book and was eager to read some of her more contemporary books.
I had been pitched her book, The Bookshop at Water’s End, back in 2017 and passed at the time and now I am so sad that I did because I would have discovered this author long before now!
At any rate, I was thrilled to read this book when it came out and was looking forward to reading some of her contemporary fiction to see how it compared to her historical work. I knew that each book would be vastly different as they are different genres, but she’s an excellent writer and I know that good writing is good writing, and regardless of genre, that’s what stands out in a good book.
Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now 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 and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home (summary from Goodreads).
Callahan Henry has experience under her belt. She has writing over twenty novels and her confidence as a successful writer shines in this book. The characters themselves are full bodies and developed as well as inviting and personable. And the writing was superb, as I would except from a writer of her caliber.
But what I loved most about this book was the way it made me think. A lot of this book is about loss, forgiveness, and the past. I found myself questioning if I could forgive the betrayal of the sister, or if one can ever truly go home again, and how to make peace with the past. This book focused a lot on memories and how they shift and change with time and I could wholeheartedly relate to that problem. As time goes by you forget lots of things and your mind has a way of shifting memories to justify feeling and this book captured that so well.
While this book is more in the women’s fiction category, I think it would appeal to a wide audience as there was a lot of themes to focus on. The family felt like a real family with real issues which made them so real and I loved the characters and ultimately how the story resolved. This was a book I was stealing little moments here and there to read. I was not disappointed in the least.
Callahan Henry is a talented and strong story teller, if you pick up any of her books I doubt you would be disappointed. This books has complex themes but they will keep you engrossed in the narrative. Don’t miss this wonderful story, you will walk away feeling uplifted and content with the ending.
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