By: Patti Callahan Henry
Publication Date: July 2017
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 25, 2017
Patti Callahan Henry delivers a perfect blend of family secrets, tragedy and true friendship in her latest novel, The Bookshop at Water’s End.
It’s been decades since Bonny Blankenship visited Water’s End. She built a life of rewarding success as a doctor. She is married to an equally successful attorney. However, all great things have their moments of a downward spiral. Bonnie is at the headwaters of her unraveling. Her daughter, Piper, has miserably tanked her first year of college. To compound the situation, when her best friend’s brother Owen winds up in the ER (and she is the attending physician), little did Bonnie know the ‘reunion’ would be the catalyst to the possibility of her losing her license to practice medicine. The trifecta to her drama is the imminent implosion of her marriage of thirty years. All signs were pointing to a trip back to Water’s End.
Bonnie and Lainey were known as the Summer Sisters. Lainey McKay got as far away from Water’s End as possible. Petaluma, California was her home—a home where she married a great guy and had two beautiful children. When she received the call from her ‘summer sister’ with the request to meet her in Water’s End for ‘one last summer before she sold the place,’ she wasn’t sure she could accommodate. She was thirteen years old that last summer. It was also the last time she and her brother Owen would ever see their mother—a mother who left them and was never to be seen again.
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to review a variety of wonderfully entertaining bodies of work. As an author, I consistently (and typically) approach fellow writers’ stories with the question: ‘what makes this one special?’ In Ms. Callahan’s case, it began for me with her dedication. She pays tribute to one of the most iconic authors of our time: Pat Conroy; ‘In honor of Pat Conroy October 26, 1945-March 4, 2016. Your life and work taught me both the power of story and of truth, and your death the same. You are and will be achingly missed for all time.’ In my opinion, truer words have rarely been written. I took pause after reading such a powerful dedication and knew I was in for a treat. With each word Ms. Henry had placed upon every page, there is purpose and intention. She beckons the attention of her audience and refuses to let go. She artfully builds plot from one scene to the next and infuses rich dialogue throughout. Her characters have depth; enabling her reader to engage and know these fictitious beings as one of their own in their respective circle of friends. Just like a Pat Conroy novel, as the pages dwindle in number, melancholy takes over - the end of the story is near. Ms. Henry nails the art of writing in The Bookshop at Water’s End. Outstanding read and I look forward to her next.
Quill says: The Bookshop at Water’s End takes a stronghold on its audience and vows to entertain from beginning, to middle, to end.