So very pleased and thrilled to have Dorie join us on this blog for this fun and highly enjoyable book!
THIS WAS MY LAST READ OF 2021!!!! This is the most fun I’ve had with a thriller in a very long time.
The plot was very clever and the characters were interesting – everyone has their faults and neuroses.
Except for our patriarch, Stephen Aston, OR SO IT APPEARS!!
He is a 60 something physician, still attractive, getting married to a much younger woman!! He has done well and has a beautiful home, one that Heather designed! He loves his family, including his ex-wife Pam whom he has just divorced!! The book opens with their wedding ceremony!
Looking on as “bridesmaids” are Stephen’s daughters, Tully and Rachel. Tully is married with 2 young children, Rachel is single with a thriving business. Neither is happy about the wedding and they are sitting with their still very much alive mother, who has dementia.
I started to get excited about this book and really couldn’t put it down!!
The book switches to before the wedding for a long time :
While visiting her mother at the nursing facility, Tully has heard her mother talk about how Stephen had hurt her so many times!! Rachel hears her mother complain that he was a terrible man!!
The plot moves along quickly, the three young women start to question if Stephen is the perfect dad and husband that they thought! Pam was young when she was diagnosed with dementia and she often had bruises, although the girls don’t remember her being clumsy. Did her dad abuse her in some way???
Heather wakes up one morning after a girls night out. She remembers coming home to Stephen waiting for her, then she envisions what he did to her. She’s about to leave him when she sees Stephen at the kitchen table, HE HAS A BLACK EYE AND A SCRATCH ON HIS FACE!!
What is going on??? Are these women finally seeing who Stephen really is, or are they mentally creating a picture of a different man??
Lots of great surprises and mind games!! The ending is left to the reader’s design!
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, St. Martin’s press, through NetGalley.
***This was a buddy read with Marialyce and Jan and we had great fun discussing this one and all enjoyed it! Check out their great reviews!
The book opens at a wedding when, as the happy couple go to the sacristy to sign the marriage license, the guests hear a thud, a scream, and the celebrant comes out covered in blood. What happened? We are kept in the dark as to who, what, why as we go back in time.
Stephen is a successful cardiac surgeon, still married to Pam, who suffers from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and resides in a care facility. Imagine the shock and surprise of his two grown daughters, Rachel and Tully, when he invites them to a luncheon to meet Heather, his very young fiancé.
Heather is the product of a troubled childhood and is unsure in social situations, always expecting the worst from people, including her husband-to-be. Rachel and Tully both have their own issues. Tully is married and living an upper middle-class lifestyle that is crumbling around her as she hides a dangerous secret, while Rachel is single and has a secret trauma from her past.
As the daughters go through their mother’s things, they find a hot water bottle filled with cash and the theories begin to fly. Told from the perspective of the three women, a group think begins to occur and past events and motivations are assigned to Stephen that may or may not be true. As they sift through their memories and come to conclusions, are they correct or have they been tainted by time, assumptions, and innuendos?
This is a brilliant exploration of memory, as well as early trauma affecting our perceptions and beliefs. The ending could be open to interpretation and it’s one I re-read several times. I have my own belief and interpretation based on my own experiences, as I’m sure others will interpret it differently based on their beliefs and experiences. I didn’t find it ambiguous but other readers may. Which, when you think about it, proves the author’s point brilliantly.
It’s been a long time since I had such a page-turner that I was glued to the page past my bedtime. I rate according to genre, how fast I flip the pages, and how much a book makes me think. This may not be an in-depth character study but for a terrific lighter read with substance you can’t go wrong. I read this as a buddy read with Marialyce and Dorie, and it inspired an interesting and lively discussion. This would make a terrific book club selection.
*I received a digital copy for review from NetGalley
* Publication date April 5, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press
I have not been a big fan of Sally Hepworth, but I must say this book changed my mind. There is so much to it both in the story itself and the discussions I was able to have with my two book friends, Jan and Dorie, but the very questions it left in our minds as to who or what managed to complete an awful act.
So much is left to the imagination, and this book does make one wonder what lines might have been crossed and how often we can be deceived by what seems to be right in front of our eyes.
People with issues and problems present themselves in so many ways. Stephen, the head of the family, a successful doctor is currently married to Pam, but sadly Pam is in the hold of dementia and is confined to a home. Stephen has also met and fallen in love with Heather, a young woman his two daughter’s age who is ever so anxious to become something, to climb out of the hole her family seemed to have placed her in. The two daughters, Tully and Rachel are products of trauma and both hide their mental states to all, even in Tully’s case from her husband.
And so, this mixture of people come together to both prepare for the upcoming divorce and marriage of their saintly father. However, is he the saint we are all led to believe or is there once again a hidden self that lies within Stephen that seems to set them all down a road, they never believed they would travel.
Intensely interesting and page turning, this book keeps one engrossed in the happenings of this family and the inevitable end that they seem to be headed for. Definitely recommend this one for its probe into the very essence of family and what the mind believes.
Thank you to Sally Hepworth, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for this story due out April 5, 2022.