From the author’s website:
Every family has its secrets…
Behind the clouds of dementia, Lillian holds memories of a life that her granddaughter Lisa could never imagine. From her childhood in 1920s and 30s Toronto, to a young World War II society bride, through scandal and unthinkable tragedies, Lillian kept her extraordinary life a secret, retreating into a lonely, bitter existence. Curious about her grandmother’s mysterious past, Lisa unearths a long-buried secret that may finally bring the truth to light.
I met Cynthia Hill a few years ago at BlissDom, and we’ve become friends in that period of time. She’s an absolutely wonderful person, and quite the talented author. I read Idol Hands a year and a half ago or so, and purchased an electronic version of this book a while back. So while I am friends with the author, please note that this doesn’t colour my review – I am being completely honest in what I say here.
I’ve been in a reading slump for the past month, trying to really get into a couple of books but not really feeling hooked by any of them. On a whim I pulled out my iPad to see if I had anything purchased on there that I hadn’t read yet, and this little gem appeared and grabbed me immediately.
So you know how some people (including myself) are often afraid to read self-published books? This one embodies everything that is wonderful about novels – self-published, independently published, or published by one of the big publishing houses. It was well written, really highly edited, with great pacing and very well-developed characters. If every self-published book were written like this, I would be reading a lot more of them.
I loved how this book skipped between present day Ontario and earlier in Toronto – stories that take place in older Toronto are always so much fun! It was also very obvious that the author did a lot of research on what living in Toronto would have been like during the WWII and the Great Depression. Even though the family was more well-to-do, you could definitely see how these events would have affected our own country.
It was a little challenging at times to see Lillian from both her own perspective and from her granddaughter’s perspective – the accounts of who Lillian was were just so different near the beginning of the book. Though, that was definitely part of the drive to keep reading – to figure out what exactly happened to Lillian throughout her life to make her become who she is at the end of the book. It was actually rather heartbreaking to really grow attached to Lillian, from the parts of the books that are from her point of view, and then to view her from Lisa’s point of view. Because the Lillian we know at the beginning of the book is positively lovely, though very proud, so it’s hard to see her grow harder and more isolated.
Also, how difficult is it to see the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s on someone that you love? I could totally understand why Lisa found it hard to visit her grandmother.
The Bottom Line
I really enjoyed this book. And I’m not just saying that because Cynthia is a friend of mine. This is highly recommended.