This was how she knew the end was near.
At night time, after she’d gone to bed and begun the welcome voyage toward sleep, her friends would appear. They fluttered the curtains and stirred the dust, bringing with them the smell of long ago, far away places.
When she was young, she would have thought them ghosts, but at the clear-eyed age of ninety five, she knew better. They were only memories, flickers of her past. The stories she’d kept hidden for so long that she almost didn’t recognize the players when they reentered the stage.
The visits (she liked to think of them as visits) had started in the summer when she still lived at the Alabama house across the road from Pritchard Hospital. In July, she’d seen her mother, the Major, and Dell. Then in August, Ethel and Erma and Jimmy Singley. Also, old Steadfast and Arthur showed up. Come that September – when the business with the Honeysuckle Girls came to a head – Jinn, Collie and Trix arrived, laughing and fiercely beautiful. They filled the room with the smell of wine. It was her first night back in California that brought the most welcome guest – her greatest friend and staunchest ally, Charles. He sat on his side of the bed and sang to her, and she kept her eyes on his strong, safe profile until sleep descended.
She was glad to see them all. Their presence brought her comfort. When they were alive, some had not treated her well; some had even been cruel, but she didn’t mind now. That was one of the many blessings of old age. This softening of memory, the melting away of grudges. Forgiveness was no longer something to strive for. Now it entered her room through an open window.
One chilly night toward the end of October, Dove was wakened by a dream she couldn’t remember. She looked at the clock, but she’d left her glasses outside and couldn’t see the time. She could see the shadow man who sat motionless in the slipper chair beside her dressing table. He watched her with eyes that glittered.
‘You,’ she said, her voice filled with wonder and the edge of a memory she would have rather not revisited.
‘You shouldn’t have run, Ruth,’ the shadow man said. ‘You brought so much sorrow in doing that. So much pain.’
It was all she could think to say, although she knew it certainly didn’t make up for what she’d done.
He rose then, letting the faint light fall over him, and when he held up a length of faded pink ribbon, it seemed to glow in the light of the moon.
‘You belonged to him,’ he said. ‘You always belonged to him.’
It wasn’t true, but she knew it was pointless to argue. He’d spoken with the zeal of a convert, and that was a thing she was well acquainted with. As soon as she realized this, she also realized something else, something she should have known sooner, from the first moment she’d opened her eyes.
The figure in the dark wasn’t a ghost, or an ephemeral memory from her past, but a real flesh and blood man. And he hadn’t come as a friend. He’d come for revenge.
ABOUT REVIVING THE HAWTHORN SISTERS: Dove Jarrod was a renowned evangelist and faith healer. Only her granddaughter, Eve Candler, knows that Dove was a con artist. In the eight years since Dove’s death, Eve has maintained Dove’s charitable foundation—and her lies. But just as a documentary team wraps up a shoot about the miracle worker, Eve is assaulted by a vengeful stranger intent on exposing what could be Dove’s darkest secret: murder…
Tuscaloosa, 1934: a wily young orphan escapes the psychiatric hospital where she was born. When she joins the itinerant inspirational duo the Hawthorn Sisters, the road ahead is one of stirring new possibilities. And with an obsessive predator on her trail, one of untold dangers. For a young girl to survive, desperate choices must be made.
Now, to protect her family, Eve will join forces with the investigative filmmaker and one of Dove’s friends, risking everything to unravel the truth behind the accusations against her grandmother. But will the truth set her free or set her world on fire?
MY THOUGHTS: Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters is a multigenerational story of the family of Dove Jarrod, where secrets are discovered, lies uncovered, and a long lost treasure searched for, all set over a dual timeline switching between the present and the 1930s.
While this has some of the same characters as Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, it is not a sequel as such, and each book can be read as a stand-alone. Whereas the Honeysuckle Girls focused on Jinn and her great granddaughter Althea, the Hawthorn Sisters is centred around Dove in the 1930s and her granddaughter Eve in the present. Jinn barely rates a mention, but Althea features quite prominently.
I didn’t feel the same connection to the characters that I felt with the Honeysuckle Girls, and yet I was excited at the thought of learning Dove’s backstory because I was sure, from what we saw of her in the Honeysuckle Girls, it was going to be most interesting. And the sections of the book that focus on Dove are interesting, and exciting. It was Eve’s story that fell flat for me. I didn’t connect with her at all, and I was a little disappointed with the similarities between Althea’s character in the Honeysuckle Girls, and Ember’s in the Hawthorn Sisters. I don’t think that the story flows as smoothly as Burying the Honeysuckle Girls. There are hints of the supernatural in this story, which I am not generally averse to, but sometimes they just didn’t quite fit. Carpenter’s writing remains beautiful and atmospheric, just the characters let this book down.
Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters is a good read, just not, in my opinion, as good as Burying the Honeysuckle Girls which entranced and riveted me from beginning to end.
THE AUTHOR: Emily Carpenter, a former actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Georgia with her family. (Amazon)
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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