I was a bit skeptical when starting this book. I am an ardent ARS fan but have been disappointed in her last 2 or 3 books. When I first started this book, I thought it would be another book similar to her book "Colony". There are similarities, but this book turned out very different. I loved the beautiful, detailed descriptions of the land and cottage, first love, the magic of childhood, Christmas. ARS's descriptions sent me there with Lilly. This book had so much going on, and the last 10 pages or so, there seemed to be a surprise on every page, with a total shock at the end. Some people may not like the surprises and shocking end, but I loved it. Bittersweet ending-have a box of Kleenex handy if you are a sap like me! :o) IMO this book is more like the way Siddons used to write. I absolutely loved this book and gobbled it up. Definite keeper for me.
I love Ann Rivers Siddons! Her books always, always, have an emotional hook that you never know is coming - until it hits you, and then you will have to catch your breath afterward. Even then, you will be so engrossed in the story you will have to go on, and you never know when another emotional hook will grab you again. If you have not read her books, you are missing out on one of the best authors ever.
This book is about Lilly and going through her life journey with her from 11 until death. It is a hard read to get into at first, and until page 80 or so it's a struggle, at least for me, to really feel out the characters.
Some you really never do.
Lilly lost her first love, Jon, when she was 11 due to his drastic suicide when he found out through a girl jealous of Lilly and Jon's relationship what Jon's father had hid from him all these years, he was part Jewish decent, which back in those times just a few years after WWII was I guess, reason for suicide.
You move with Lilly into the death of her mother from breast cancer, and through her marriage with Cam, which you come to find out something wretched about him, though not directly stated, was fairly obvious that he was guilty of the ultimate crime a spouse could commit against the other.
The character I fell in love with the most was Kitty, someone Cam had grown up with and grew to be Lilly's best friend after her and Cam were married. She's independent, wild, and plays by her own rules which this book severely lacked in other places, save for Lilly's mother.
If you enjoy a read blue-blooded society around the era of JFK, and a little before you'll get into this book, however, I just found it sort of an offbeat VC Andrews type read without the your husband is really your first cousin or brother type of feel to it.
This book was not what the back cover described - the very end, very little of the book was. The "secrets" were not elaborated on and were disappointing. I did not like the end either. The story was good until the last bit.
Not my favorite Anne Rivers Siddons, probably because it's set in Maine, not South Carolina. But, as usual, her descriptive passages are lovely-she has a way of talking about the light in particular and nature in general that I always enjoy. This novel spends a great deal of time on the "growing-up" of the main characters, instead of using the events of their adult lives to move the dramatic action along and I guess I missed the adult dialogue that is usually the focus of her stories. It was a good read and I'd recommend it for any ARS fan, but I'm going back to re-read some of the SC books and maybe a Pat Conroy or two!