Reviewed by Cara Lynn
This is a re-publishing of her novel. I read an uncorrected advance copy.
This was a hard book for me to get into. It wasn’t until I was on about page 200 when I began to figure it out. Perhaps that was because it took me so long to read the first 200 pages that I might not have remembered clues given earlier. Who knows.
The basic story is about a harpist Daphne Whitaker Duvallon who wishes to attend her brother’s wedding (and perform). Her conductor in NYC, Rafe, who also happens to be an ex-lover, fires her from her position. She goes to the wedding anyway. About a year earlier, she had literally stopped her wedding to Jack when she discovered her soon-to-be husband in the throes of making love to someone else. (She announces that at the wedding.) He holds a grudge; she is terribly hurt. He sabotages her harp just before her brother’s wedding.
Enter Sim Hopkins, a bird photographer, whose marriage ended disastrously in divorce when he was not home when his wife loses a baby. His ex-wife is a lawyer that Jack hires to push through disposing toxic waste too close to the bird sanctuary. Of course Jack does this after researching Sim on the Internet and knowing that he and Daphne are getting close. Daphne tries, unsuccessfully, to convince Sim that they are up to no good.
Both of them hear a harp playing in the middle of the night when no one is there. They are in two separate locations.
In a way, this book is a sort of time-travel gothic romance. Daphne finds herself transported back into the past when she hears certain sounds or music. She witnesses the people; she isn’t part of it. (That wasn’t clear to me in the beginning.) Whether Sim has any similar experiences, we don’t know.
Suffice it to say that the lives of the ancestors are in some ways influencing the present. And they are thoroughly unlikeable, with a couple of exceptions, as well as mentally off, shades of Jane Eyre with the crazy wife in the upper rooms, then the daughter with similar issues put in an insane asylum when she doesn’t deserve it by a tyrant of a second husband after her money, stillborns, forced marital ‘rights’. Even with the geneologies in the front of the book, I had a hard time keeping them straight. This is the deep south, in the time of slavery.
The book flips back and forth from present day to the past.
Both Sim and Daphne are wounded by their own pasts, let alone their ancestors.
Be warned: There is abortion, miscarriage, stillborn, suicides, insanity, disfigurement, a Gothic-type denouement.
Recommended: If you like reading about the past and the above situations.
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