Sins of the Mother

Sins of the Mother

by Tara Hyland

Paperback(Atria Books)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439165126
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 08/09/2011
Edition description: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 998,871
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

1

COUNTY CORK, IRELAND, JULY 1946

“Stop! Not here—someone might see!”

Franny broke from the man’s embrace, struggling to sit up in the long grass. Her breaths were coming short and fast, although it wasn’t all due to the fear of being caught. Wanting was written across the girl’s flushed cheeks. But she was determined not to give in to her desire. Before marriage, it was a mortal sin, and while she liked to think she was too sophisticated to believe the Church’s teachings, it was hard to ignore seventeen years of sermons.

Still lying on his back, Sean reached up with one large, callused hand and brushed a lock of auburn hair from her face. The rich red color reminded him of the glossy coat of the sika deer that roamed the Irish countryside, he was always telling her. He had a way with words, did Sean.

“Ah, come on now, my pretty little colleen. There’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing.”

That was easy for him to say. If her parents found out about them, there would be hell to pay. Canoodling with a boy from the neighboring farms would have been bad enough, but Sean was a laborer, a hired hand toiling on her father’s land. To the snobbish minds of those reared in small-town Ireland, that would be the worst crime of all.

Sensing her fears, Sean gave her the hangdog look she had grown to know so well over the past few weeks. “All I’m wanting is a bit of a kiss and a cuddle. You wouldn’t deny a hardworking man like me a little peck on the lips now, would you?”

Franny felt her resolve weakening—as it always did when it came to Sean Gallagher. With his impish grin, black hair, and blue eyes, he reminded her of Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. Like Rhett Butler, Sean was a free spirit, unconcerned by social conventions. He had grown up in Limerick but hadn’t been back for years. Instead he liked to travel, going wherever there was work. When England had needed extra laborers to work in the munitions factories during the war, he had been one of those to go over. Her parents looked down on his wandering spirit, but to Franny, desperate to escape her hometown and see the world, there was nothing more attractive. Until four weeks ago, she hadn’t thought that someone so exciting would ever come to sleepy Glen Vale.

He’d arrived from Cork at the beginning of June, to help with the fruit-picking. The first time Franny had seen him, Sean had been standing on a stepladder, thinning out the apple trees, his bare back glistening in the late-afternoon sun. While her sister had stood by giggling, Franny had bravely gone over to speak to him. Of course Maggie—the nasty little snitch—had told their mammy all about it later, and she’d gotten the strap. But it had been worth it to get Sean’s attention.

“Just stay five more minutes,” he pleaded, reaching up to lace his fingers through hers. As he tugged her toward him, she caught his scent. He smelled of his day working in the fields: a strong, manly odor. “Look, there’s no one close.”

Franny glanced around. He was right, of course. The meadow was fallow and far from the farmhouse. No one ever came out here. But still …

“No,” she insisted, getting to her feet. “It’s late and Mam will be wanting help with the tea. If I don’t get back soon, she’ll tan my backside.”

“I wouldn’t mind doing that meself,” Sean said, reaching up to playfully slap her on the bottom.

“Ouch!” Pretending to be offended by the overfamiliar gesture, Franny drew herself up. “You, sir, are no gentleman.” It was a line from Gone with the Wind, said in a perfect imitation of Vivien Leigh’s southern drawl. Franny had a talent for impersonations and within a few minutes of meeting someone could mimic his accent and mannerisms perfectly.

It took Sean a moment to get the reference. “And you, miss, are no lady,” he returned in a somewhat stilted impression of Clark Gable.

They grinned at each other for a moment, enjoying the shared joke. Sean took her hand. “Meet me later, will you?”

Franny hesitated. It was never easy for her to get away.

“Oh, come on, sweetheart,” her beau chided. “Otherwise I might have to take a trip into Cork and find meself a new woman.”

He said it in jest, but to Franny the words were like a threat. It was her greatest fear: that Sean would lose interest in her if she didn’t do what he wanted. He’d probably met all manner of sophisticated women in England; how was she, a little farm girl, to compete?

But drawing on all her acting skills, she managed to hide her anxiety. Keeping him guessing was the best way to keep him interested, she’d decided long ago. “Maybe I’ll meet with you,” she said, with a touch of haughtiness. “And then again, maybe I won’t.” Without another word, she picked up her skirts and started to run back toward the farmhouse, her golden-red hair flowing out like flames behind her.

As she ran through the cornfields, the long sheaves scratching at her bare legs, Franny knew she would be in trouble again. Not that that was anything new. She was always being told off, usually for skiving from her chores to go to the cinema in the neighboring town.

“What are you doing, wasting your time at the pictures?” her father would grumble.

But Franny couldn’t get enough of the Hollywood films, which allowed her to escape from her dull life for a couple of hours. She went to the movies whenever she could, and she dreamed of one day being a star like Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Jane Russell—of living in glamorous Los Angeles rather than boring Glen Vale.

Franny hated the rural area where she’d grown up. Located about forty miles outside of Cork, the village and surrounding countryside housed no more than three hundred souls. It was an impoverished, gray place, where the men either worked or drank their lives away and the women were given to religion and childbearing—and raised their daughters to expect nothing more from life.

But Franny did want more. She had been born to stand out. At seventeen, she looked exactly as Irish girls were meant to, in a world where Maureen O’Hara set the standard. Along with her vibrant auburn hair, she had large, mischievous green eyes, skin like freshly churned butter cream, and a small, upturned nose sprinkled with pretty freckles. Her soft, voluptuous body would have given Lana Turner a run for her money, and her flame-red hair was matched by a passionate nature, her personality as vibrant as her looks. It was as though she had been recorded in Technicolor, while the rest of the county languished in black and white. Her big plan was to escape Glen Vale as soon as possible. And today, she was one step closer to getting what she wanted.

Slipping a hand into her pocket, she was relieved to find that the letter was still there. It had arrived that morning, informing her that she had been accepted to train as a nurse in London. She was thrilled. Not because she particularly wanted to be a nurse but because it was her chance to leave Ireland. Once in England, she would find some way to do what she really wanted—become a movie star.

But first there was one large hurdle to cross: getting her father’s blessing. She knew he wouldn’t want her to go. He couldn’t see beyond Glen Vale, had never been farther than Cork, in fact. He wasn’t an adventurer like Sean, who was already talking of going back to London. “The city’s in ruins after all the bombing. They’ll be needing builders, mark my words,” he’d told her. Franny often daydreamed about the two of them living in England together.

As she neared home, Franny felt her spirits deflate a little. The farmhouse and surrounding outbuildings were low, uninspired brick structures, built for function rather than aesthetics. Outside, she used the water pump to cool the heat from her face. It wouldn’t do for anyone to suspect where she’d been. The kitchen windows were steamed up, meaning she was late for dinner. Cursing, she quickly dried her hands on her apron and hurried inside.

Flinging the kitchen door open, Franny was greeted by the wet, salty smell of boiled bacon and cabbage. She pulled a face. It was always this or stew—why couldn’t they eat something different for a change?

Her mother was bent over the stove, using a fork to test whether the potatoes were cooked. Seeing Franny, she automatically tsked with disapproval. “Where’ve you been, child?” Theresa Healey was typical of Glen Vale women. Once she had been a beauty like Franny, but years of childbearing and poverty had worn her down. Franny’s greatest fear was ending up like her mother.

“With Sean Gallagher, no doubt.” This was from Franny’s elder sister, Maggie. It was said nastily rather than as a joke. Maggie liked to cause trouble, especially for Franny. At twenty, she was a plain, dour girl who envied her younger sister’s pretty face and buoyant nature.

Their mother looked over sharply. “I hope there’s no truth in that, my girl.”

Franny said nothing, just contented herself with a scowl at her sister, who poked her tongue out in reply. Unlike Franny, Maggie had no interest in anything other than getting married. Skeletally thin, she had a mean mouth and cold eyes, and the permanent look of someone who felt she’d been handed a raw deal in life. “It’s not fair,” she would moan. “If I had only half Franny’s looks I’d be wedded by now.” But privately Franny thought the lack of suitors had less to do with her sister’s appearance and more to do with her constant bellyaching.

Theresa sighed wearily—something she did a lot—and said, “Supper’s about ready, so best get setting that table, girls.”

“Yes, Mam,” Franny and Maggie chorused.

They studiously ignored each other as they began laying cutlery and plates. The crockery was mismatched, and apart from the basics, it was a bare table: flowers and napkins were a luxury the household couldn’t afford. At six on the dot, Theresa started to serve up. The men didn’t need to be called in from the field—the daily routine never altered.

Franny sat on one side of the table, and Maggie took a seat opposite—the better to glare at me, Franny thought—with their mother between them at one end. Sean came in next, greeting the women warmly. Franny had warned him early on not to sit next to her, afraid that they might give themselves away, so he seated himself beside Maggie, winking at Franny as he did so. Franny’s father, Michael, arrived last. As he took his place at the head of the table, a hush fell over the room. They all bowed their heads for grace.

“For what we are about to receive,” Theresa said, as she did every night, “may the Lord make us truly thankful.”

With that, they all opened their eyes and began to eat. Theresa had already doled out the meat, making sure the men had the lion’s share, and now they passed dishes of boiled potatoes and cabbage around the table. This was all done with the minimum of words. There was never much chatter at mealtimes. Michael Healey was a silent man, and, as the head of the house, his preference filtered down to the others.

“So how’s the work going?” Theresa asked.

Michael shrugged and made a noncommittal noise. It was up to Sean to say, “We should be finished soon.”

“And have you made any decision about what you’ll be doing after that?”

Everyone tensed as Michael asked the question that came up at least once a week. It was no secret that once the fruit was collected he wanted to keep Sean on to help with the harvest. The farm was getting too much for him lately, and, as he was fond of complaining, it wasn’t as if he had any sons to help him out. Of the six children Theresa had borne, there had been only one boy, Patrick. A strong, strapping lad, he should have taken over the farm one day. But, like Franny, he had been eager to see the world. While her father, a Unionist man who hated the English, had agreed with Prime Minister Eamon de Valera’s policy of keeping Ireland out of the war, Patrick had seen it as his chance for adventure. On the day of his eighteenth birthday, he’d gone to England to volunteer. Less than a year later, he had died on the beaches of Normandy. Now Michael’s only reference to his son was to complain that the English had robbed him of his help on the farm.

Other than Patrick, Maggie, and Franny, there had been three stillbirths, and after the last, the doctor had warned Theresa against trying for more children. That meant Michael had no natural heir to the farm. It was because of this he wanted Sean to stay on to help bring in the wheat, but the young man had always been typically noncommittal. As before, the farmhand said now, “I’ve no idea what I’ll be doing, sir. I’ll see when the time comes.”

The older man shook his head in disapproval. “It’s a strange way you live, going from place to place, with no security or roots.”

“Da!” Franny chided, hating the way her father took every opportunity to put the boot in with Sean.

“Well, it’s true. He lives like a tinker.”

There was an awkward silence, but Sean didn’t seem upset. “It suits me that way. And it’d be a strange world if we were all the same, wouldn’t it?”

Franny beamed at him. He was well able for her father, and that was something she admired.

Now Sean patted his belly and burped loudly. “As usual, that was delicious, ladies. I’ve never eaten so well as I have since coming here. You’ll be hard pressed to get rid of me.”

He winked at Mrs. Healey, who scowled back. She knew Sean Gallagher’s type. A lovable rogue: charming and entertaining, but not someone you’d want near your daughters. Seeing the enraptured look on Franny’s face, she felt a twinge of unease. She’d have to keep a close eye on that one. Her youngest child was a romantic and far too pretty for her own good.

“There’s no need to thank Franny for the meal,” Maggie piped up. “She didn’t help a bit.”

Their father seized on the information. “Is this true, Franny? You’ve been shirking your duties again?”

Franny glared at her elder sister, longing to wipe the smug smile from her face.

“Yes, Da,” she said, trying to look contrite.

“And where were you this time?”

Studiously avoiding looking at Sean, she said, “Out walking. I didn’t realize how late it had got.”

Her father snorted. “You’ve got to learn some responsibility, my girl.”

“Yes, Da.”

But he ignored her and continued talking. “In fact, I think it’s about time you started helping out a bit more around here. Your mother’s slowing down. From tomorrow, you’ll take over looking after the small livestock. That should keep you out of mischief.”

Franny was horrified. She couldn’t think of anything worse than being around those filthy, smelly pigs or the goat that always seemed to find a way to chew her hair.

“But what’s the point? I’ll be off to England in a few weeks.” It was more of a question than a statement. No one rushed to agree with her. “Da?” she prompted.

“What?”

Franny felt a flicker of fear, knowing how easily he could get into a temper. But she couldn’t back down now. “I said, I’ll be in London soon. We talked about this, me going to train as a nurse. Well, the letter came today. I’ve been accepted,” she told him proudly.

She took out the crumpled envelope to show him. She’d read it so many times that it was already well worn. He ignored her outstretched hand and continued eating.

“Michael,” Theresa chided gently. “The child’s trying to show you something.” Franny flashed her mother a grateful look. She was more sympathetic than her husband to her daughter’s wandering spirit. She knew there was no point trying to clip their youngest’s wings.

With a grunt, Michael threw down his fork and snatched the letter from Franny. He quickly scanned the contents and then tossed it onto the table. “What would you be wanting to go over there for?”

“Because there’s nothing for me here!”

“Now’s not a good time. Maybe next year.”

Franny had heard this before. It would be the same every year, until she was too old or too worn down to have her dreams anymore. She looked desperately at her mother for help, but Theresa dropped her eyes to the table. Michael wasn’t a violent man, not like some, but he still wasn’t above the odd whack when the mood took him. Franny was on her own.

“But, Da—”

He banged his fist on the hard wooden table, cutting her off. “Will you ever shut it, girl!” His eyes flashed dark and angry, and instinctively she recoiled. “I’ll hear no more on the subject.”

He grabbed a hunk of bread and mopped up the meat and gravy on his plate, shoving the makeshift sandwich into his mouth, brown juice spilling out and down the sides of his face. Franny looked at him in disgust. Her gaze moved to Sean, and she saw sympathy in his eyes. At least he understood how she felt, that she couldn’t stand to be trapped in this place, never having the chance to live.

Sean got up then. “I’d best see to the livestock before dark.” He carried his plate to the sink and washed it. As he let himself out, he gave a backward glance at Franny. She saw the invitation in his eyes as he left.

Up until then, she still hadn’t decided whether to see Sean that night. But in that moment, Franny made up her mind. She would go to him, after all. She would prove to him, and to herself, that she was meant for more than this dump. And to hell with the consequences. Who knew? Maybe then he would take her with him when he left Glen Vale.

© 2011 Tara Hyland

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Sins of the Mother includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Tara Hyland. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Compare and contrast Cara and Franny. In what ways are they different, and in what others are they similar?

2. What is this novel saying about second chances? Which characters get them, and what do they do with them?

3. As the title suggests, Sins of the Mother is very much about the failures of maternal figures. Consider the many women who act as mother figures for Cara. To what extent are they successful or disappointing role models for her?

4. Two pregnancies—both to young, unmarried women—drive much of the narrative’s action. Discuss how these pregnancies are handled by the adults in these young girls’ lives, and the impact of their actions. What role does shame play here, and in your opinion, who—if anyone—is guilty, in these scenarios?

5. Where does friendship fit in to this novel? Can it ever compensate for the absence of family?

6. Both Franny and Cara want to pursue a career. What reasons do they give for wanting this, and what paths do they take to reach this goal? Discuss the employment
opportunities that are available to women throughout Sins of the Mother.

7. Consider the male characters in Sins of the Mother. How are they depicted? Are any of them redeemable?

8. While in Hollywood, Franny reasons: “When it came down to it, she loved being an actress. While she might like the trappings of success—the apartment and the car, the furs and the jewelry—they weren’t why she stayed in Hollywood. She stayed because she still got a flutter in her stomach every time she stepped onto a film set. And not only did she love acting, she was good at it, too. For the first time in her life, she had respect, and she didn’t want to give that up.” What did you think of Franny’s decision to stay in Hollywood without her daughter? Did it seem like a conscious choice, or something that simply evolved? Could you empathize with her?

9. Discuss the depiction of power in the novel. Who has power, and how do they exert it? Are positions of power fixed, or do they shift over the course of the narrative?

10. Max says to Cara, “You seemed happy, so your mother decided to leave you. She felt that she’d done enough damage and didn’t want to disturb your peace.” What did you think of Franny’s decision to not contact Cara once she was again living with the Connolly family in London?

11. Franny remarks on the remoteness of Stanhope Castle to Max, to which he replies, “If the tide comes in, it will always go out again. It’s just a question of waiting.” To what extent is this presented as a truth of the narrative in general?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Pick a 1950s Hollywood actress to read a biography of, and then watch one of the films that the star you picked appeared in. Some possible selections might include Vivien Leigh, Ava Gardner, or Lana Turner.

2. If you haven’t yet read Daughters of Fortune, Tara Hyland’s first novel, consider reading it as a group. Discuss how the theme of family secrets—and the ways in which they are bound to resurface—are present in each novel.

3. Stanhope Castle is reminiscent of Hearst Castle. As a group, learn more about William Randolph Hearst, and examine the parallels between him and Max Stanhope. You might also look at photographs of the famous estate, and imagine Franny living there.

A Conversation with Tara Hyland

What was the inspiration behind Sins of the Mother? What kind of research did you need to do for this novel?

The original inspiration came from thinking back to Virginia Andrews’ gothic sagas, which I read as a teenager. I had this one-line idea, to write a story about a mother who abandons her daughter, and it went from there. In terms of research, I tend to read a lot around the period that I’m writing about—whether it was William J Mann’s biography of Elizabeth Taylor for the Hollywood part of the story, to Frances Reilly’s Suffer the Little Children, to get an account of a convent upbringing

How did the writing process of Sins of the Mother differ from Daughters of Fortune? Did you find one easier or harder to write?

Originally I thought Sins of the Mother would be easier to write, as there were only two main characters, while Daughters of Fortune had three. But I think I underestimated other challenges! With my second book, I chose to set my story in a period of rapid social change—the 1940s to the 1970s—so that required a great deal of research. Also, there is a big mystery in the book, and integrating that was more difficult than I anticipated.

Both of your books cover such large geographic and temporal distances. How do you plot out your novels?

I plot in a very linear way. I come up with the initial idea, and write a one-page synopsis, and then I just start building up from there—splitting the action into chapters and starting to add scenes. I usually end up with a thirty-page synopsis by the end, and I work off that.

There’s a very surprising twist at the end of the narrative! Did you have this mystery in mind from the very beginning, or did it arise later in the writing process for you?

Yes, I’d thought up the entire mystery before I started writing. Some of the details changed in the editing process, but the major twist was always there.

Why did you choose to set your novel in the 1950s and 1960s? What drew you to writing about this time period?

I’d already written a very modern novel, and I felt that I’d said all I needed to about the modern day! I also liked the idea of setting my story in the past, as the mystery and drama seemed to suit a more historical setting. I also really wanted to write about the Golden Age of Hollywood, as I think part of my story is very film noir.

Many readers may not be familiar with the influence of Irish gangs on London’s street culture during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Can you provide a bit of background for us?

The Irish gang in my novel is based loosely on the Krays and the Richardsons, who were operating in London during that period. From their impoverished beginnings, they become West End nightclub owners in the 1960s, mixing with performers and movie stars, and ended up as celebrities in their own right. I wanted to capture the idea of the violence and the glamour in my novel.

The Catholic orphanage where Cara is placed treats her cruelly, but the one Sophie grows up in seems quite nurturing. What were you trying to suggest with this parallel?

My point was that how an institution is run is down to the individuals in charge. Obviously there are many harrowing accounts of how children were treated in Church-run institutions in the past, but it isn’t fair to tar everyone with the same brush.

Which character’s voice came the most naturally to you? Which required the most crafting?

Cara was the easiest to write. She’s the innocent in the novel and, despite going off the rails a little, she’s essentially a good person. Franny was harder to write. She makes some bad choices, and it was difficult to keep her sympathetic. I hope she just comes across as very human and somewhat misguided.

This novel is very much about the ways that parents can fail their children. But it’s also about the ability of children to transcend their upbringing and reach for more. Can you comment further on this? What lessons can be learned from how the Healy women—Theresa, Franny, and Cara—relate to each other?

I think it’s essentially about people trying to do their best, but often unintentionally hurting their loved-ones along the way. I don’t think any of the main characters are ever intentionally cruel to each other, but their decisions and actions often harm others in unexpected ways. The story is also, to my mind, about forgiveness. Cara needs to forgive her mother at the end in order to move on with her own life.

Which authors and novels have had the greatest influence on your own writing?

I love those classic ‘big’ blockbuster reads—so Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, Jeffrey Archer’s Kane & Abel, Jackie Collins’ Chances, and Sidney Sheldon’s Master of the Game.

After a career in finance, you now have two novels under your belt. Will you continue writing? What are you up to next?

I’m already hard at work on my third novel. It’s probably my most ambitious novel to date, and it’s about two women from very different backgrounds—an American heiress and an English scullery maid—whose lives become entwined in a way they couldn’t imagine…

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Sins of the Mother 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Icecream18 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
Could you abandon your own child? This novel's central theme appears to be abandonment, love, and understanding. The author delivers on all fronts. She manages to stay fairly neutral in this novel-not an easy task in a novel where judgement is easy to dole out. The main character of the first part, Franny, is likable at first. She appears as an eager child looking forward to the rest of her future. However, a turn of events involving a pregnancy and the father taking off leaves her far more cynical and desiring a better life. Her gluttony eventually gets the better of her. She takes off and abandons her daughter, Cara, much like her lover did to her years ago. Cara grows up fresh-faced and tough with her grandmother, her absent mother missing birthdays and sending presents late. Cara's bitterness towards her mother at first seems accurate and deserved. However, things are not always as they seem and Cara soon finds out her mother's life is not nearly as glamorous as she once thought. This author highlights Huntington's Disease in her novel; the disease is integral to the plot and important to learn about. The author writes very smoothly and frankly, details are never left to the imagination. This novel is recommended for young adults/adults who enjoy women's fiction.
idroskicinia on LibraryThing 22 days ago
I loved this book for the simple reason that it wasn't what I was expecting. It was more. The story, that for a moment I thought it would be simple and perhaps somewhat tedious, talking only about disputes and problems between mother and daughter, turned out to be a story full of drama, love, relationships with no future, injustice, mystery and incredible twists. The story is more than credible. Tara Hyland does a magnificent job creating those characters and developing their story, so I'm not so surprise why this book caught my attention immediately. The situations, the places and the relationships are described perfectly. I spent two days reading the book and couldn't put it down until I finished. There were occasions I felt happy for the characters, other times I felt sorry and sad to see the extreme situations in which they were, and that I was unable to do something to help them. I even got angry with the author for writing those things. But I really enjoyed it. What I didn't like too much was the speed with which the author ends the story. After so much suffering and so many mixed stories, the book ends abruptly, as if there was no more space to write on. I would have preferred to read an epilogue and to know more about the relationship between Franny and Clara, (their real relationship) and to know more about Clara's life and to read more about some other characters that the author didn't talk about at the end. So, what can I say? If you like family dramas, family secrets, intrigues and stories like real life, this book is for you, but if you prefer short stories, not so dramatic and kind of fairytales, skip this one. Recommended for adults and older teens.Happy Reading!
skstiles612 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
When Franny Healey becomes an unwed mother she sees her dreams of becoming an actress slipping away. She decides to leave her baby with her mother and go to Hollywood to chase that dream and find a way to provide a living for her. Somewhere along the line Franny becomes a famous actress and marries. She tells no one she has a child in Europe.Cara grows up under the care of her grandmother. When her grandmother dies Cara is placed in an orphanage. The story carries us through Cara¿s life with all the twists and turns we learn about along the way. This is a story of selfless love, redemption, and forgiveness. This was a satisfying read and one that went quickly. Anyone who loves the quirky, romantic , dysfunctional family, type mystery will enjoy this book.
skstiles612 More than 1 year ago
When Franny Healey becomes an unwed mother she sees her dreams of becoming an actress slipping away. She decides to leave her baby with her mother and go to Hollywood to chase that dream and find a way to provide a living for her. Somewhere along the line Franny becomes a famous actress and marries. She tells no one she has a child in Europe. Cara grows up under the care of her grandmother. When her grandmother dies Cara is placed in an orphanage. The story carries us through Cara's life with all the twists and turns we learn about along the way. This is a story of selfless love, redemption, and forgiveness. This was a satisfying read and one that went quickly. Anyone who loves the quirky, romantic , dysfunctional family, type mystery will enjoy this book.
bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
: I really enjoyed this book. You take a journey with the main character from when she is teenager until her death. You see the mistakes she makes along the way as well as the triumphs and loves in her life. Fanny is someone you can love and yet hate and think 'Why' all at the same time. Her life is difficult and exciting, I love that reading allows the reader to experience so many more lifetimes then we will ever have. Cara, Fanny's daughter, is a tough character with a love for life despite what life throws at her. As the reader we are privileged to see her life unfold, seeing her mistakes and triumphs, her loves and losses. The supporting characters are interesting and multi-faceted making the book flow well and the story exciting, making turning the next page a must. Every time I put this book down I would still have it at the back of my mind. We can all relate to a family tale where love is sometimes all that holds us together, and this one will not disappoint. I think anyone would enjoy this book, it's over 400 pages but it is worth the journey.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic read. A little historical wrapped around a wonderful story with women at the core. I fell in love with the story from the beginning and even with it being a chunkster, I couldn't put it down and finished it in two and a half days. With a glimpse at the very beginning that would weave nicely into the ending - this book was nothing like the books I have been reading recently - it had heart, turmoil, twists and turns. I fell in love with Franny from the beginning and just wanted to hear her story. The characters that weaved in and out were dynamic and kept the story moving forward. Even the ending had turns that I couldn't have even predicted! I will not spoil this great read with any details, but will instead urge you to go to your closest bookstore (perferrably an indie) and grab this touching story. Even a reluctanct historical fiction reader will love this one.
Icecream18 More than 1 year ago
Could you abandon your own child? This novel's central theme appears to be abandonment, love, and understanding. The author delivers on all fronts. She manages to stay fairly neutral in this novel-not an easy task in a novel where judgement is easy to dole out. The main character of the first part, Franny, is likable at first. She appears as an eager child looking forward to the rest of her future. However, a turn of events involving a pregnancy and the father taking off leaves her far more cynical and desiring a better life. Her gluttony eventually gets the better of her. She takes off and abandons her daughter, Cara, much like her lover did to her years ago. Cara grows up fresh-faced and tough with her grandmother, her absent mother missing birthdays and sending presents late. Cara's bitterness towards her mother at first seems accurate and deserved. However, things are not always as they seem and Cara soon finds out her mother's life is not nearly as glamorous as she once thought. This author highlights Huntington's Disease in her novel; the disease is integral to the plot and important to learn about. The author writes very smoothly and frankly, details are never left to the imagination. This novel is recommended for young adults/adults who enjoy women's fiction.