Recently widowed Rebecca McKenzie, a successful Vancouver businesswoman, returns to small-town Hope River after an absence of 30 years to attend her mother's funeral. Estranged from her father and two older siblings, she's left a brutal childhood and a psychopathic grandfather behind. She expects her visit home to be short. but then she discovers the diaries written by her mother, a British war bride with a young baby who came to Canada to join a husband she scarcely knew. Rebecca (and the reader) find her heart wrung by her mother's story.
Meanwhile, a young girl has gone missing, and the suspicions of the townspeople fall on Rebecca's handsome, charming brother Jimmy. Before long, violence threatens and Rebecca must put aside some long-held grievances to protect Jimmy and find the real killer.
This debut novel will appeal to readers of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs and Pip Granger's Not All Tarts Are Apple and its sequels, evoking admiration, respect, and sympathy for members of The Greatest Generation, both English and Canadian.
Well-crafted storytelling and an evocative setting make for a rewarding debut from Canadian newcomer Delany. Prodigal daughter Rebecca McKenzie, a widow and thriving Vancouver executive, returns to Hope River, her suffocating Ontario hometown, for the first time in 30 years, to attend the funeral of her mother, the only family member from whom she's not estranged. While she stays tethered via the phone lines to her office, she struggles to resolve old grudges with her older siblings, further complicated by her brother's possible involvement with a young woman's disappearance. The extra time at home with her seemingly forlorn father reacquaints her with her family in the present; 60 years of her mother's diaries give her a chance to see that things in Hope River aren't how she remembers them and possibly were never really what she thought they were. The diary narrative, presented in alternating chapters, is especially poignant, chronicling the hard life of a young English war bride trapped in the isolation of Canada, where her new father-in-law is as cold and vicious as the winters. The only drawback is the secondary characters--cartoonish villains and too-good-to-be-true allies--who detract from Delany's otherwise skillful and layered depictions. (Mar. 28)
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Poisoned Pen Press
May 31, 2006
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