THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END by Patti Callahan Henry


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


The women who spent their childhood summers in a small southern town discover it harbors secrets as lush as the marshes that surround it…

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.


THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END is an engaging story about two fifty-something friends at a crossroads in life who return to their childhood vacation home to face the ghosts of their past. Lainey and Bonny were known as the Summer Sisters around the idyllic waterfront town, and they had the happiest times together until tragedy struck. Lainey’s mom disappeared without a trace, something that has haunted her for nearly 40 years. Bonny is dealing with her own issues, including a crumbling marriage and a medical career on the line due to a careless mistake, plus a troubled collage-age daughter and a lifetime of unrequited love for Lainey’s brother Owen. Yep, there’s a lot going on here!

This was a beautifully written, character driven novel, and the descriptions of time an place were gorgeous. The characters were real and easy to empathize with. Even when obstacles seemed insurmountable, they did the best they could and persevered. Woven throughout the book is the mystery of Lainey’s mother’s disappearance which kept me intrigued, though the conclusion left me with mixed feelings. I’m not sure I accept the reasoning behind it. Maybe.

THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END is a lovely story of friendship, forgiveness, and starting over, and a great choice for summer reading.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Audiobook Review: COMING UP FOR AIR by Patti Callahan Henry

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Format: Audio; 7 CDs (8 hrs, 11 min.)
Narrator: Janet Metzger
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press/Brilliance Audio
Released: August 16, 2011
Source: Borrowed from the library

Ellie Calvin is caught in a dying marriage, and she knows this. With her beloved daughter away at college and a growing gap between her and her husband, she doesn’t quite seem to fit into her own life. But everything changes when her controlling mother, Lillian, passes away. Ellie sees her ex-boyfriend, Hutch, at the funeral, and learns that he is in charge of a documentary that involved Lillian before her death – and he wants answers to questions that Ellie’s not sure she can face.

As Ellie and Hutch start digging into Lillian’s history, and speaking for the first time in years, Ellie’s closed heart slowly begins to open. Using both a hidden diary that Ellie found in her mother’s things, and a trip to the Summer House, a mysterious and seductive bayside home, they gamble that they can work together and not fall in love again. But in piecing together a decades-old unrequited-love story, they just might uncover the secrets in their own hearts…

———

I dearly loved this book. It pulled at my heartstrings, made me teary-eyed, and left me hopeful. What more could I ask for?

Coming Up For Air is such an appropriate title for this book. It relates to an amazing phenomena that happens at the Summer House, and also to Ellie herself, stagnant in a suffocating marriage and desperate for air. It is the mystery she finds in her late mother’s journal that is her catalyst. In uncovering her mother’s secret life, those missing years in the early 1960s, and the impact they had on her, Ellie rediscovers herself.

This was a beautifully written novel about love lost and found again. About heartbreak and hope. With a well-drawn cast of characters and a magical setting, it was easy to be absorbed in the story. Keep the tissues handy!

The audio edition of this book was performed by Janet Metzger, and I enjoyed her narration. The story was told in Ellie’s first person POV, and Ms. Metzger captured her disposition perfectly.

Rating: 5 Stars