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The Last Will of Moira Leahy

The Last Will of Moira Leahy

4.8 25
by Therese Walsh

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"An original, intriguing tale about the ways that love can break us or bind us."
–Therese Fowler, author of Souvenir and Reunion

This haunting debut novel explores the intense bond of sisterhood as a grieving twin searches for her own identity in the ruins of her sister's past.

Moira Leahy struggled growing up in her


"An original, intriguing tale about the ways that love can break us or bind us."
–Therese Fowler, author of Souvenir and Reunion

This haunting debut novel explores the intense bond of sisterhood as a grieving twin searches for her own identity in the ruins of her sister's past.

Moira Leahy struggled growing up in her prodigious twin's shadow; Maeve was always more talented, more daring, more fun. In the autumn of the girls' sixteenth year, a secret love tempted Moira, allowing her to have her own taste of adventure, but it also damaged the intimate, intuitive relationship she'd always shared with her sister. Though Moira's adolescent struggles came to a tragic end nearly a decade ago, her brief flirtation with independence will haunt her sister for years to come.

When Maeve Leahy lost her twin, she left home and buried her fun-loving spirit to become a workaholic professor of languages at a small college in upstate New York. She lives a solitary life now, controlling what she can and ignoring the rest–the recurring nightmares, hallucinations about a child with red hair, the unquiet sounds in her mind, her reflection in the mirror. It doesn't help that her mother avoids her, her best friend questions her sanity, and her not-quite boyfriend has left the country. But at least her life is ordered. Exactly how she wants it.

Until one night at an auction when Maeve wins a keris,a Javanese dagger that reminds her of her lost youth and happier days playing pirates with Moira in their father's boat. Days later, a book on weaponry is nailed to her office door, followed by the arrival of anonymous notes, including one that invites her to Rome to learn more about the blade and its legendary properties. Opening her heart and mind to possibility, Maeve accepts the invitation and, with it, also opens a window into her past.

Ultimately, she will revisit the tragic November night that shaped her and Moira's destinies–and learn that nothing can be taken at face value–as one sister emerges whole and the other's score is finally settled.

The Last Will of Moira Leahyis a mesmerizing and romantic consideration of the bonds of family, the impossibility of forgetting, and the value of forgiveness.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Walsh's satisfying novel follows Maeve Leahy, a brilliant young professor, in her pursuit for answers about her family and herself. When she impulsively bids on a keris—an ancient Javanese dagger—at an auction house, Maeve's orderly life spins out of control. Anonymous notes appear on her office door, with provocative hints about the origins of the keris, unleashing memories of Maeve's onetime musical ambitions and the loss of her twin, Moira. When a note urges Maeve to visit Rome, her best friend, Kit, persuades her to go. There she finds Noel, her rakish love interest, who is trying to solve his own family's mysteries. He helps Maeve navigate the bewildering questions and characters in Rome while making his romantic ambitions clear, much to Maeve's indignation and secret fascination. Walsh ably shifts between Maeve's current quest and flashbacks showing the twins as children, revealing little by little the story behind Maeve's grief. While Maeve sometimes comes across as self-involved—even for a woman on a personal quest—Walsh's pleasing blend of mystery, romance and the supernatural is enough to keep readers rooting for the heroine. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
First-time novelist Walsh uneasily combines a romantic adventure about a missing dagger with the psychological story of an adolescent sibling rivalry. In Betheny, N.Y., 26-year-old Maeve buys a Javanese dagger called a keris at an auction because it reminds her of the one she lost during her childhood in Maine. Back then, she was a redheaded, saxophone-playing musical prodigy inseparably close to her identical twin sister Moira. But after Moira was hit by a car nine years ago, Maeve put away her sax and become a bleached-blonde workaholic professor. Soon after her purchase, Maeve begins receiving mysterious messages. A Javanese stranger wants her to meet him in Rome to discuss the keris. Encouraged by her father and her childhood friend Kit, Maeve heads to the Eternal City, where she is met by Noel, a best friend from Betheny who has been living in Paris. Together they search for the elusive keris expert. Interspersed with Maeve's present story is a narration by 16-year-old Moira. Less adventurous and musically talented than her twin, Moira is an engagingly troubled teen with a dreamy romantic crush on Kit's older brother Ian. He has a crush on Maeve, and when he mistakes Moira for Maeve one day, she doesn't correct him. They begin a secret romantic/sexual relationship, and Moira's confused emotions-envy, guilt, passion and regret as she deceives the boy she loves and usurps her sister's place-are delineated with heart-wrenching believability. In contrast, Maeve's Roman adventures with Noel are heavily plotted and artificial. Seeking the keris expert, the pair encounter danger in all the expected places. They gradually admit their love, but it's lukewarm even at its most passionate. In abit of spiritual hokum, Maeve discovers that the keris has powers that not only save her physical life but also unite her spirit with her sister's. Most alive when it focuses on the supposedly mousy twin. Agent: Elisabeth Weed/Weed Literary
From the Publisher
Finalist for the 2010 RITA Award for Best First Novel

“Walsh's satisfying novel follows Maeve Leahy, a brilliant young professor, in her pursuit for answers about her family and herself. [She] ably shifts between Maeve's current quest and flashbacks showing the twins as children, revealing little by little the story behind Maeve's grief. . . . [A] pleasing blend of mystery, romance and the supernatural.”
Publishers Weekly

“Walsh’s debut is a magical, involving journey, one that mixes a compelling mystery from the past with a suspenseful search in the present.”

“Mystery, romance and historical elements blend together in this captivating debut. The magical adventure will take readers on a journey of the heart that reunites the souls of twin sisters. Walsh weaves an enchanting, poignant and enthralling tale.”
Romantic Times Book Reviews

"Moira’s confused emotions—envy, guilt, passion and regret as she deceives the boy she loves and usurps her sister’ s place—are delineated with heart-wrenching believability."
Kirkus Reviews

"A hauntingly beautiful story about grief, the language of twins, and the healing power of a bond that is stronger than death. The characters of Moira and Maeve will linger long after you finish this amazing first novel."
—Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader

"The Last Will of Moira Leahy is haunting, exotic and romantic–the way Gothic tales are romantic, wrapped in luscious, dark atmosphere. It's a magical debut and I can't wait for more from Therese Walsh. She's one to watch."
—Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells

“This book made me want to ignore my work and neglect my children. The Last Will of Moira Leahy offers an irresistible combination of mystery, romance, psychological complexity, and lovely writing. I devoured it.”
—Leah Stewart, author of The Myth of You and Me

"Tender and transcendent, Therese Walsh’s debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a captivating look at the truths we conceal, the scars we bear, and the journeys we all must take in order to find our way back home, back to ourselves. I loved every magical page.”
—Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Time of My Life

“Is there anything more worthwhile than being taken by the hand by a true and gifted storyteller and shown a world that is at once mysterious, mesmerizing and filled with characters who deeply touch your heart? A dark psychological tale of secrets and betrayal, suspense and passion, The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a book that makes you forget everything and just spend the rest of the day and night reading. Like Rebecca, this is a tale so well told that it keeps you in its grip and doesn't let go, haunting you long after you've turned the last page. If it were written by a seasoned novelist, The Last Will of Moira Leahy would be a feat. That it is a debut makes it all the more amazing. Bravo!”
—M.J. Rose, internationally bestselling author of The Memorist

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt



I lost my twin to a harsh November nine years ago. Ever since, I’ve felt the span of that month like no other, as if each of the calendar’s thirty perfect little squares split in two on the page. I wished they’d just disappear. Bring on winter. I had bags of rock salt, a shovel, and a strong back. I wasn’t afraid of ice and snow. November always lingered, though, crackling under the foot of my memory like dead leaves.

It was no wonder then that I gave in to impulse one November evening, left papers piled high on my desk and went to where I’d lost myself in the past with a friend. I thought I might evade memory for a while at the auction house, but I slammed into it anyhow. It was just November’s way.

Only this time, November surprised me.


I had to have it.

Just over a foot long, the wavy dagger looked ancient and as though it’d been carved from lava rock. The grooved base was a study in asymmetry, with one end swooping off in a jagged point and the other circling into itself like a tiny, self-protective tail or the crest of a wave. Gemstones filled a ring that bound metal to a cocked wood handle. Intricate engravings covered the silver sheath. If not for a small hole in the blade’s center, it would’ve been flawless.

I leaned in to touch it but was jarred out of my study by a poke to the thigh. The poker, a little girl, almost capsized me, and not from the poking, either. I don’t believe in ghosts, but if I did I might think I was looking at my sister from years past. My sister, a child. Eyes like the sea. Long, red hair like hers—and mine, before I snuffed out my pyrotechnics with several boxes of Platinum Snow and found a pair of scissors.

My vision grayed a little as I stared at her. She might’ve been seven or eight—a few years younger than Moira and me when we’d filched a sword like the one I intended to have and lost it in the bay. Well, I’d lost it, pretending to be Alvilda, Pirate Queen.

The girl poked me again.

“Can I help you, little one?” I asked. “Are you lost?”

She didn’t answer, just pointed toward the far back of the viewing table. There wasn’t much there: a bust of JFK, a pearlized candy jar, and an indigo bottle that might’ve been Depression-era glass. Noel would’ve been able to say for sure.

“Do you want that?” I took a guess and pointed at the candy jar. Maybe there was a secret stash of chocolate in there; who knew? But she shook her head. I looked again and saw a small black box slathered with pink roses, the buds as sweet as frosting. Of course. “The box?” She nodded.

I cradled it before her, and she reached out a hand pudgy with youth. “Careful,” I said. I looked for parental figures but saw no one exhibiting missing-child panic—or with the right hair color. The girl didn’t take the box, just left it in my hands and opened the lid.

Music swam up at me. “The Entertainer.” The girl giggled.

“Do you—” My voice turned to rust. “Do you like music?”

“I love dancing to the music.” Her voice was sweet, as shy as her smile. She was so much like Moira, but whole, able to run and laugh. I missed my sister’s laugh—maybe most of all.

“Do you play any instru—”

“Jillian! There you are!” A woman with dark hair strode toward us, her face a combination of annoyance and relief.

“I was looking at the music, Mommy,” the girl said. “See how pretty?”

The mother bent before her daughter. “You scared me. Next time you want to look at something, we’ll go together.”

The girl nodded, serious, just as the lights flickered.

“Let’s find a seat.” The woman pulled her daughter behind her as the girl lifted her hand to me. Good-bye. They disappeared in the crowd.

I shook off my melancholy thoughts and turned back to the blade. My fingers itched to touch it, but just as I reached, an auction attendant pulled it off the table, sheathed it, and placed it in a cardboard box. “Viewing time’s over,” she said.


“Fallen in love, have you?”

I’d never seen another blade like the one I’d lost to the sea, and the desire for it tugged at me as if a line were rooted in my mouth. “I have to have it.”

The woman added items to her container: the blue bottle, the candy jar, the music box. “You’d better get out your checkbook, then. Old George thinks that sword will go for hundreds.”

Fine, then. I had a checkbook.

After a few minutes of dodging elbows and purses, I registered as the temporary owner of one beat-up paddle (number 51). Snippets of conversation danced around me as I wedged my way between wide-shouldered men and women.

“John would love that old clock for Christmas.”

“Let’s get through Thanksgiving first.”

“Thanksgiving’s just a day. Christmas is an event. Besides, it’s never too soon to buy for Christmas. Don’t you think he’d love that clock?”

I veered away from them, closer to the stage. That stage and the old floor, pockmarked from where rows of shabby velvet seats used to reside, were all that remained of the theater that had once been a revered landmark in Betheny, New York. At least, that’s what Noel had told me. I’d only been a resident since college.

I’d just reached the front when George Lansing, the owner of Lansing’s Block, appeared center stage. There was a blur of activity—the sale of someone’s stamp collection, a worn set of stools, a mahogany china closet that would break backs. I saw the blue bottle poking out of its container at George’s feet and knew the blade lay there as well. The bottle sold, and then George grasped the music box.

“Going once!” he said, after a token amount of haggling with the crowd. A middle-aged woman with a sour expression had raised her marker and placed a bid of $5.

Where was the girl? Wouldn’t her mother buy the box for $6? I looked around but didn’t see her.

“Going twice!”

My arm lifted almost of its own volition. “Ten dollars.”

George didn’t even look at me, probably just wrote the bidder off as a sucker. There were no further offers.

I didn’t need a music box. I didn’t want a music box. In fact, I’d hate that music box. But the child who looked so much like my sister should have it. I couldn’t seek her out, though, because just then George held the sheathed dagger over his head, and the raucous room grew hushed. I leaned closer; everyone seemed to.

“Now here’s something you don’t see every day,” Lansing said, his voice as gritty as his wares. “This here’s a keris. It’s a little roughed up with a hole through its middle, but not bad shape when you consider it was made somewhere in Indonesia probably two centuries ago.”

Somewhere in Indonesia. Probably two centuries ago. I smiled. Lansing had never been big on facts—something Noel had taken profitable advantage of in the past.

And then Lansing’s pitch rose, and the chant began: “Who’ll bid two hundred dollars, two hundred dollars, two hundred dollars?”

It seemed half the room’s occupants held their markers high, and the price rose to $225, $250, $275. I gripped my marker with slick palms. Noel had taught me how to bide my time, to don a face as still as the water on a windless bay; the slightest ripple would attract Lansing’s attention.

“This blade’s worth at least double that last bid, and I won’t sell it for anything less than $350!” He pounded the podium—a technique that probably wasn’t in the Christie’s handbook, even if it did work. I looked over my shoulder as number 36 grumbled his bid of $350.

How much was I willing to spend in honor of a memory?

“Going once for three hundred and fifty dollars, going twice!”

I raised my marker and hollered, “Four hundred dollars!”

George finally looked at me, and his speck-dark eyes grew wide. “It’s Noel Ryan’s friend, the little albino girl,” he said with a smirk. He eyeballed the room, but Noel wouldn’t be found here tonight. “He send you for this?”

“No,” I said, “he didn’t.”

Little albino girl. Times like this I just wanted to shout out that I, Maeve Leahy, was in fact a professor and connoisseur of more languages than George Lansing could probably name. But I said nothing, just tried to skewer him with my most lethal stare as people turned to look at me and my hueless hair. He smiled as he waved the gilded carrot that was Noel’s impeccable reputation and keen eye before the crowd, and didn’t blink when the false bait drew bites and the bidding resumed.

My Irish kicked in when it was down to me and another persis- tent soul, someone who pressed on from the back of the room. I had to have the blade, so I would have it. I lifted my marker and tried not to think about the cost.

But the other bidder didn’t relent, either.

“You?” George Lansing said with incredulity the first time number 12’s marker was called out. After, he just glowered at whoever gave my checkbook and me such a run, which was curious in and of itself.

I craned my head to pierce my competitor with dagger eyes, to say, Back off. This is mine. But I couldn’t stand tall enough to see a face, just the competing placard and an odd black hat on a short-statured body. I was no fashionista, but the hat looked like a pillbox wrapped in a scarf.

None of it mattered in the end. Once the price teetered up to $700, not even Lansing could coerce blood from the others’ snapped-shut, firm-tucked, copper-pinching veins. So I won.

The tautness in my chest loosened as I made my way to the pay-and-pickup window. I might’ve forgotten about the music box, but the woman behind the counter quoted me $710, and handed it over straightaway once I’d written out the check.

“The other—that sword thingy—it’s not here yet,” she said.

I took the music box and returned to the jammed room. I spied the young mother right away, standing in line for hot dogs.

“Excuse me.” I held the box out to her. “Your daughter admired this earlier, and I’d love for her to have it.”

“Oh, no.” The woman’s painted brows knit tight. “We couldn’t possibly. Thank you, but no,” she repeated over my objections. “We can’t accept that, can we, Jillian?”

Her daughter appeared by her side—or maybe she’d been there all along and I hadn’t recognized her. Because her hair, it wasn’t red at all; it was dark like her mother’s.

“It’s pretty,” the girl said with a shrug. “You keep it.”

“You must have another daughter,” I said to the mother. “She’s the one who liked the box.”

The woman’s expression turned wary. “No, I only have one.” And then she laughed. “One’s enough.”

“No,” I muttered. “One’s not nearly enough.” I took a last look at the girl before turning away.

I stood beneath the ratty paper-globe light at the pay-and-pickup window until the blade arrived. I couldn’t wait to touch it, but when I did I felt a startling amount of disappointment. There was no internal tremor, no spark. Instead, my chest clogged with emotion. I held that blade and whispered in every language I knew, “Bienvenue. Bem-vindo. Bienvenido. Salve. Benvenuto. Bine ai venit. Welcome.”

the first thing I noticed when I stepped into my apartment—besides the deafening silence that meant Kit was once again not at home—was the bright green face of my cell phone staring up at me from the entry table. I’d forgotten it again. And I’d missed a message. My thoughts leaped to Noel. I tossed the music box and the blade on the couch beside my sleeping cat, Sam, and checked for voice mail.


Daddy. My heart stuttered.

“We can’t make it for Thanksgiving after all. Sorry, sweetheart. Well,” he said, “wish you were there. Talk soon.”

I stood static for a minute, then called Kit. It surprised me when she picked up.

“Miss your daily dose of harassment?”

At least she knew herself. “Yeah, my life’s bland without your trademark aggravation peppered all over it.”

She laughed. “I was just about to call you. I’ll be home later, so don’t freak if you hear the door open.”

“They’re letting you out for good behavior?” I walked to the window to stare out at the night. “Have they strapped one of those detection boxes to your ankle—you know, the kind they give to stay-at-home convicts?”

“Yep. It’s called a pager.” Kit, a first-year resident physician, worked far more hours than the law allowed, though it suited Betheny’s floundering teaching hospital just fine.

I breathed on the glass, then put my finger against the film of condensation and made a tic-tac-toe grid. “My dad called. My parents won’t be here for Thanksgiving after all.”

“So go to them,” she said without missing a beat. “It’s not such a long drive, and you haven’t been to Castine in years.”

“I’ve been busy.” I put an X in the center of my grid, then an O at the upper right.

“But it could be—”

“No.” I imagined it for a second: seeing my parents and the old room I’d shared with Moira, walking over Maine’s rock beaches and sailing the Penobscot. But as much as I missed the sea, Castine had become like quicksand for me. “No,” I repeated. “I’ll stay here. That means it’s you and me and the cat.”

“So we’ll make our own Thanksgiving. Turkey, all the trimmings.”

“They’ll let you whip up garlic mashed potatoes in the ER?”

“Funny.” She paused. “We still need to schedule your MRI.”

I wished she’d let that go, but I guess it was my fault for making a big deal out of it once when the noises came—scattery disjointed sounds, a little like you’d hear trying to tune in to a distant radio station. We’d been eating one of our rare meals together when I’d covered my ears and growled, “Knock it off!”

She stopped twirling pasta to stare at me. “What the hell?”

“Nothing. Just my personal noise factory.”

“You’re hearing things?” Her cat eyes narrowed on me, and then she’d provided an encyclopedic listing of every freakish thing that could make a person imagine sounds. “I don’t think it’s schizophrenia.”

“Thanks for that.”

“But what about a brain tumor or—” A gasp. “It could be post-traumatic stress disorder! You’re scatterbrained, you sleep for crap, you have zero sex drive—”

“Enough! I haven’t been in a war, Kit.”

“You have, kind of. It could be plain traumatic stress. That’s like PTSD, just not as severe.”

I understood the excitement of untangling a mystery and weaving a theory, but Kit was off the mark; I knew more about the noises than I’d let on. Those little immature sounds that wanted to bust free in my cranium were the remnants of a previous life, the parts that used to make up my sum. I’d moved on, and I wished the remnants would, too.

“Well, if I did have one of those diseases,” I’d said, “could you prescribe something to stop the noises? Does such a drug exist?” Maybe not my best idea, but what good was it to have your best friend become a doctor if she couldn’t whip out her prescription pad once in a while to simplify your life?

She’d just shaken her head and said, “You need to see a neurologist,” which I wasn’t about to do.

I tried harder after that to repress the sounds, though the effort stole my energy, and pretty soon Kit was saying I was too pale and my body temperature too low and that maybe I had chronic fatigue syndrome or a sleep disorder or needed to be tested for lupus and an array of other things. I thought she was the one with the clear diagnosis: medical residentitis.

“Hey, you there?” Kit said in real time. Me, I’d drawn my third tic-tac-toe board, and I hadn’t won a single game.

“Only if you promise not to start in with me.”

“Hallucinations can be serious, Maeve.”

“Random noises don’t count as hallucinations, just corroded brain joints.” God, if I told her about the little girl with the not-red hair she’d have me admitted to the psych ward for sure.

“Well, I think you should see someone,” she said.

“I know you do.”

“I love you, you know?”

“I know. I’ll leave a light on for you.”

I shut my cell, then found the Windex. I squirted solution onto the window markings I’d made and cleared them all away—just in case playing tic-tac-toe with yourself could be used as evidence of insanity. And if there were any noises other than that of squeaky-clean glass, I pretended not to hear them.

that night, I had to force myself to read and grade half of the essays left on my desk. If not for Jim Shay’s effort—“C’è un’orrenda creatura nel mio brood” (There’s a gruesome creature in my soup)—the process would’ve been entirely unoccupying, which was odd, because I loved to teach, loved my students, loved to keep track of their progress and grade even the most Nytol-ish of papers. And I loved language—all those words with their own spin and dip, requiring their own special curl of the tongue: ebullición, bellissimo, kyrielle, obcecação, labialização, babucha, l’Absolu, d’aria.

I gave up on my work, sat on the couch, and unsheathed the dagger. My finger traveled the metal. God, it took me back.

Once upon a time, my parents liked to tell bedtime stories. My mother favored the parable of the Five Chinese Brothers, who were as identical as Moira and me, but whose different talents saved them from every imaginable catastrophe. One boy could hold an entire sea in his mouth, while each of the others could either go without air or survive fire unscathed, or had an iron neck or legs that could grow into stiltlike appendages.

But my father liked to tell Alvilda’s tale. She’d escaped a prince who wanted to marry her to become a pirate and ruler of the seas instead. Funny, that very prince bested her in battle later and made her fall in love and settle down. She became the queen of Denmark. A story far more satisfying than your run-of-the-mill Cinderella romance.

At the fearsome and fearless age of ten, I decided to become the next Alvilda. All I needed was a boat, a sword, and the sea. I had plenty of boats at my command, since my father made them for a living, and there was sea all over the place in Castine. That left the sword. So one day, I put on my best Alvilda clothes—a red coat, black boots, and an eye patch fashioned out of black construction paper and a shoelace—and sketched a plan for pinching the wavy blade from the artifacts cabinet. There were all sorts of things in that cabinet that my grandfather, an anthropologist, had brought to us from all over the world. But the wavy dagger was my favorite and would make the perfect accessory for my adventure.

Moira was nervous—

“We’ll get in trouble!”

“Shush, Moira, ’cause if Daddy comes now I’ll tell him it was your idea.”

—but she went along in the end. I found the key, opened the cabinet, grabbed the blade, and bolted with my reluctant shadow. We didn’t stop until we reached the docks, and I barely waited for Moira to hop in before I started the motorboat.

We went pretty far out for us, and then I stood on a seat near the prow and acted my part as the mighty Alvilda.

“Bring it on, matey!” I crowed, waving the blade around until Moira squealed—

“Shark, shark!”

There weren’t many words that could snuff out my bravado, but shark did it when we were in a tiny boat and far from Daddy’s help. The blade and its sheath were lost in the water. I don’t know if I dropped them in or if they slid from a precarious perch as I hovered over my twin. Regardless, by the time I realized the fin belonged to a whale—who lifted his harmless black head just once—they were gone.

My gut had ached more than my thwacked backside, knowing that beautiful blade lay at the bottom of the ocean, gone forever, thanks to me. But now I had one again.

Shadows drifted over the ceiling like sorcerer’s fingers, until my eyelids grew heavy and I gave in.

With sleep, though, came the nightmare.

Water seeped beneath the closed door as it always did. Open the door! the voice commanded as a growing stream drenched my shoes, socks, and skin. The pounding began. Open the door!

Then, something different: Tinny music, “The Entertainer,” began to play on the other side of the wood.

I broke from the dream. My skin prickled with the icy-wash feeling I loathed, and my heartbeat thundered in my throat. The music box lay open on the floor, combing through its circular song with its many pins and pegs. I must’ve kicked it off the couch in my sleep. I shut the lid and “The Entertainer” stopped. But sound remained, intensified, then mutated.

My mind filled with its own music: Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no. 12, each hammered string tinkling through my memory like water torture. All in my head, yes, but far from a hallucination.

I tapped into an old skill and pressed back the sound until song became broken notes, and notes became a weak scatter of between-station noise. Why was it that whenever it snuck in, it was piano, like a knife scraping at the last of my nerves?

An owl hooted outside my window, and I thought with a mix of exhaustion and irony that perhaps I’d just been answered, but in a language I would never understand.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

THERESE WALSH is a cofounder of the blog WriterUnboxed.com. She lives in upstate New York, with her husband, two children, a cat, and a bouncy Jack Russell named Kismet. The Last Will of Moira Leahy is her first novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Last Will of Moira Leahy 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
CJfromNY More than 1 year ago
Therese Walsh's brilliant writing and vivid details bring this story to life. You can visualize the scenes she describes, feel the emotions that her characters are going experiencing, and get swept away into such a unique story. When I am reading THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY, the rest of the world disappears. I absolutely love this book!
RunningShoeGirl More than 1 year ago
So I stayed up last night and finished "The Last Will of Moira Leahy: A Novel. I decided to start it last night to wind down before bed and wound up not going to bed until I finished it. The combination of factors really kept me turning pages. It wasn't a romance, oh wait, it kinda was. It wasn't a mystery, oh wait, there was that...well it wasn't a paranormal, well, maybe a little....Oh I know, it was a helluva book! LOL Really enjoyed this. The thing about it is I don't know what genre it goes in, but it was very well written and had so many parts that I could relate to in ways that I never expected when I started to read. I've already bought The Moon Sisters by this author and would have bought every one of them had there been more by Ms. Walsh. This book is just that good. I recommend this book hands down. To everyone, but especially those with a sister.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting plot and a bit of a surprise too. Worth the read!
jlking More than 1 year ago
The Last Will of Moira Leahy is a wonderful debut novel. I enjoyed following the journey of identical twin Maeve Leahy through her search for self, spurred by her discovery of a relic that reminds her of her twin. As Meave begins to heal from her past, the story unfolds as to what really had happened between she and her twin, Moira, years ago. What emerges throughout is a page-turning story of romance, adventure, and self-discovery, all leading to a satisfying ending and redemption. Highly recommended for fans of commerical fiction.
darlyn5 More than 1 year ago
The Last Will of Moira Leahy for me is quite a difficult read, in a good way. I was easily immersed in the story, intrigued and the whole summary really got me intrigued. It started quite slow though, with Maeve keep herself so tight and avoiding to tell us what's going on with her. She's mysterious, which made me don't understand her but it kind of weird when I think she's so connected with me as the story goes on. Walsh deserves credit for writing a character whose personality leaps off the page. There were so many times in this novel that I thought I knew exactly what action Maeve was going to make, and eventually twisting the book's journey. I got surprised a lot by Maeve, which always turned me down when I was wrong. So when she got the keris, everything went back to her and she wants to discover the truth behind it. I don't think I ever read something like this before; a mix of mystical and mysteries in a contemporary fiction. I was fascinated by the keris itself, because I myself has Javanese blood (even my fiancee is Javanese). Keris for real has mystical power which holds thousands mysteries to the owner of one. As that being said, I kind of truly understand the connection of the keris and Maeve's past. If you don't know this, when you read the book, there will be the part where you will learn the truth of the keris function in the story. You maybe think it's nothing but I got the chill on my spine. So this book got me an impact. There's some flash backs of Moira and Maeve that told us how close they were and how they became apart. It tells a lot even though it's less than two pages each time. The bond of twins fascinated me, which I truly adored their relationship, mostly when they can read or block their mind on each other. However, because of some tragedy, Maeve became the Maeve we know right now in the book; well-kept, mysterious, hurt, and pessimistic. I wish she could enjoy her life because she really deserves it. Not to waste it for nearly a decade after her sister's death. And I love Noel! (thank God there's some romance in it!). I thought the book would be a heavy and depressing read after all. Noel is tender, gentle and a great guy. He waited for Maeve for as long as he knows her. And funny too. In this, I was glad for Maeve, Noel is someone who will complete her. Teenage Moira was the best. I don't know why, but I think I love her wittiness and how she wants to do what she wants despite of being so different from Maeve like their mother wants. I dislike her mother for separating their likeness into something so-called identities just because she can't tell which is which between the twin. That being said, I like the book so much. Walsh really did an excellent job bringing the mysteries of keris and a woman's past that we keep pondering until Walsh ties the two threads together beautifully at the end of the book. There's a bit of suspense elements, but it kind of worked okay to me. But I cried when I learned the truth and how she and Moira let go the worst past in their life and forgave the person who come between them. This book was ultimately about healing from grief, siblings relationships, and about remembering past and yet letting it go forever. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AmyAtwell More than 1 year ago
I read this book in hardback last year, and I cannot forget it. Maeve Leahy still mourns the loss of her twin, Moira, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery that leads her travel, explore, reach out and connect with loved ones. It's a wonderful story of coming back to life after hiding in the shadows for far too long. I wept like child, but I felt so good at the end of the book!
Booklover53 More than 1 year ago
Picked up this book because of it's nomination with RWA. I enjoyed the story and I think I saw why it was chosen. The characters could have been better developed individually but I think they weren't intentionally to keep the reader off track. Wasn't sure exactly where the story was going until it wound down at the end. It is a story about a woman who suffers nightmares because of something that happened in her past that involved the loss of her twin sister. Her life has been put on hold and she's given up things that she loved but we don't find out until towards the end of the book what is really happening. It jumps back and forth between the past as told by her twin and the present told by the protagonist. It has that little bit of woo-woo in the story similar to Sarah Addison Allen and Alice Hoffman. That edgy part of the story kept me guessing and it felt more like a mystery than a romance. It definitely didn't fit the normal romance of everyone living happily ever after. I did choose to believe that is how it would eventually end though. I can't honestly say that I would have stayed up late to finish it but I was interested enough to finish it within a week. I felt the end tied up all the story lines and explained why she had to have this adventure. Didn't really get the part of her sister's connection with the dagger or sword or whatever it was. That part got just a little too complicated for me. I would read the next book by this author just to see her growth between the two books. I did love the cover and felt it was a good choice for marketing.
sifyguy More than 1 year ago
Although it is woman's fiction I found myself guessing at the ending and when I had about 60 pages to go I didn't want to put it down. Had to stay up late one night just to finish it. It is well written and I think I would would classify it as very good literature. A friend of mine who have read it also thought it was wonderful and "can't wait for the second book".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a beautiful story of family and relationships. Suspense with some mystic elements. It travels between the present life of Maeve Leahy, a professor of languages and her childhood in Castine, Maine where she grew up with her twin sister Moira. A tragedy when she was sixteen causes immense pain to Maeve. The story is her journey as she becomes the woman she would have been but for the tragedy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Usually when I read a book, I CAN predict what is going to happen next and how the book will end. This was NOT the case with The Last Will of Moira Leahy. I was surprised several times with the twists and turns of the plot. I loved getting to know the twins and the relationship between them which continued to grow even though they were not physically close or able to communicate in the traditional ways. An awesome read!!!!
lovelyladyreader More than 1 year ago
I am hooked on this book! It pulls you in from page one and doesnt fall short at any point. The entire book is wrapped in mystery that unfolds like a beautiful tapestry. The layers are intricate and leave you wanting more. The characters are ripe for the disecting and are relatable on many levels. This new author has a huge fan in me for sure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book has so much that you can relate to and it takes you there. you feel like you are with Meave as she travels her path. this is a must read!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =) =)
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Twenty-five-year-old Maeve Leahy likes her life orderly with limited surprises. But she's feeling restless one November night as she thinks about her twin, Moira, whom she lost to a night in November nine years before. As a distraction, she attends an antiques auction where she places the winning bid on a special dagger, a Javanese keris, very much like one she accidentally dropped into a bay years ago while playing a pirate queen with Moira. Soon mysterious things begin to happen. A book on weaponry is nailed to the door of her office at the small college in New York State where she teaches. She feels she's being watched. Then she receives a note asking her to travel to Rome where she can learn more about her knife from a man who uses an age-old tradition to make blades just like it. In Rome she's joined by Noel, the only man Maeve has let into her inner world while still keeping him at a distance. Noel has been in Europe searching for answers from his own past and escaping from the uncertainties of his relationship with Maeve. Together they start to unravel their feelings for each other, the mystery of the keris, the man behind the blade, and the voices in Maeve's mind that refuse to go away. Maeve also finally confronts her own feelings for her twin and the shocking event that separated them as teenagers. The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh is a richly conceived tale that weaves mystery, romance, adventure and self-discovery into one beautiful package. Moira's story from years before appears tucked in between Maeve's narrative in the present. The twins' inseparable bond is both a comfort and a burden to them as they learn to find their own talents. Topics to discuss include the special bond that exists between twins, learning to be true to your own personality without taking away from family members, honesty in relationships, deciding to have sex with a boyfriend, learning to deal with family tragedy and more. The Last Will of Moira Leahy is billed as women's fiction, but it is appropriate for book clubs with girls aged 15 and over. Highly recommended.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Moira and Maeve are twin sisters. Moira's life is taken in a tragic accident and it seems that a piece of Maeve has died with her. Maeve purchases a dagger that reminds her of the time she spent playing with her beloved sister. Maeve decides that it's time to start anew and moves into a new apartment. The dagger holds more power than Maeve could have ever imagined. She soon learns that there are secrets revolving around her sisters death and it's up to her to find the truth. This is an emotional account of the love between sisters. Magically written and beautifully told, this is a timeless story that captivates you, mind, body and soul.
erlovesbooks More than 1 year ago
This book is as wonderful and lovely as the cover. It has suspense, mystery, romance, and magic. Above all, magic. Twenty-five-year-old Maeve Leahy is haunted by the tragic accident of her twin sister, Moira, nine years ago. Since then, Maeve, the vibrant twin and saxophone prodigy, has shut down her emotions and shut out the music, leading a lonely and sterile life as a professor of languages in upstate New York. But she can't resist the call of a keris>, a Javanese dagger, that she buys at auction. The keris leads her to Rome, and to danger and romance and a confrontation with the past and the present. The chapters alternate between the present in Maeve's voice and the past in Moira's voice. Walsh is an artist with words, using them exquisitely, painting pictures with a few strokes that evoke emotions. Yet the pace is quick, the scenes enchanting. This is Walsh's debut book, and I'm already eager to read th the next one. I hope it's soon!
Kathleen-Irene-Paterka More than 1 year ago
When sixteen-year old Maeve Leahy lost her twin sister Moira one wild November night, Maeve's own world might as well have ended, too. Maeve coped by burying her emotions and shutting herself off from everything she held dear, including her family and friends. Years later, when an irrational urge to purchase a Javanese dagger ("keris") at auction proves irresistible, a reluctant Maeve is suddenly thrown into a world of shadows and intrigue. When a series of surprising twists and turns leads her on an unexpected and unwelcome journey to Rome, Maeve eventually meets up with the mysterious Empu and is ultimately forced to confront a past she wished remain forever buried. Therese Walsh is a hugely gifted author with a unique voice that will surely appeal to readers of both literary and commercial fiction. THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY is a break-out first novel that aches with vulnerability as the reader joins Maeve on a haunting journey which speaks of love and loss; of darkness and destiny; of sisters, shadows, and the secrets shared by twins. For only when Maeve finds the courage to allow herself to embrace the truths revealed by the keris, is she finally able to release her grief and embrace the one secret we must all discover for ourselves. It is love that binds us; it is love that holds us; it is love that will never let us go. Bravo, Ms. Walsh, for offering readers such a beautiful story. Surely it will continue to linger in hearts and souls long after the last page is read.
Richard_Mabry More than 1 year ago
Debut author Therese Walsh has crafted a book that combines Gothic romance, adventure, more than a hint of the paranormal, and unusual settings. It deals with twins, their relationship and the special, very unusual bond that exists between them. Add a Javanese dagger (kiris) that supposedly has magical powers. Mix in romance (including some definitely R-rated scenes, yet handled quite smoothly), and you begin to see a bit of what this author has put together. She is a talented wordsmith, painting word pictures and inspiring the reader with such passages as "With a rush of guilt, she tucked the tiny charm into her pocket, where it burned for the rest of the day with all the weight of a stolen sun." Women may enjoy this one more than men, but if you admire a well-crafted, unique story, I recommend this whatever your gender.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
The Last Will of Moira Leahy Maeve Leahy is a work-a-holic. She is a professor of languages at the local university. She works so hard that she leaves no time for fun. She doesn’t even visit her parents at their family home. It’s been years! This all starts to change when Maeve is at an auction and spots a keris, a dagger, and the memories come rushing back. She remembers being out on the lake out her identical twin, playing make-believe, and she is holding her grandfather’s dagger high in the sky, announcing that she was a victorious pirate princess. She remembers dropping it. The dagger had disappeared in the deep water that day, but the memory lingered, causing Maeve to want the keris, in order to hang onto this memory of her twin, Moira. Once Maeve bids on the keris and wins it, things start to change. The keris seems magical. Is she losing her mind? This is a wonderful story, filled with magic and folklore, love and family, memories and dreams of the future. The characters are well-defined and strong, and the settings are beautiful and realistic. The reader discovers Maeve’s secret past little-by-little, making the reader want to read and read in order to learn the mysteries of her past. This is a well-written and very enjoyable book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book its now one of my favorits :)
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
Because I've come to know Therese through her incredible generosity to other writers on her Writer Unboxed site and FaceBook group, I wanted to love her book, but was afraid I wouldn't. Fear was unnecessary. This was a beautiful, emotionally moving novel, and I would have loved it even if the writer wasn't Therese. Still, I'm stumped as to where to mentally shelve it. There's twins Moira and Maeve, growing up together in Maine - is it a YA? Not really. There's a romance, even sex, so is it a romance? Not really (though my cover notes it was a RITA® finalist in 2010). There's a Javanese dagger called a keris, which seems to have magical powers, is it perchance a paranormal? Noooo... There's mystery, there's a journey to Rome, there's danger, there's complicated family dynamics, and above all, there's lovely, lovely writing. And a surprise twist at the end which I am not giving away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Kionna More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. I could not put it down and that is a tough feat for a working mom with three children and a demanding job. This read was full of suspense, action, comedy, drama, and it even had me crying at the end. Thank you to the Author for the ride.