'I can't stand this poky little town any more. How can I bear it for three more months? Today alone has lasted years...'
Disinherited by her father, the debutante Miss Layla Beck is forced to spend the hot summer of 1938 in Macedonia, West Virginia, and is tasked with recording the small town's history. She arrives with one goal: to get out as quickly as possible.
Macedonia's history seems simple enough - brief and uneventful. Then Layla meets the Romeyns: Jottie, Willa, Felix, Emmett, a family at once entertaining, eccentric, seductive, and inextricably bound up in Macedonia's biggest secret.
It's a secret all the townsfolk have a stake in, and as Layla delves into town legend, hidden truths emerge that reveal an altogether different history, one that has left hearts and lives broken.
Layla soon realises that some secrets should stay hidden forever.
What did I think?
I had high hopes for this book as I had previously enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society that Annie Barrows co-wrote. This has a similar feel to it with the inclusion of the letters that Layla sends and receives, but I'm sorry to say I didn't enjoy it half as much and found it quite hard-going at the start. I also struggled with the half finished sentences when we were party to excerpts of the History of Macedonia that Layla was writing.
Macedonia is a typical small town in the deep South of America - if the author hadn't set the year as 1938, I would have guessed at around 1900 as the residents seemed so Victorian in thoughts and actions. The heat of the area came pouring out of every page and I was thankful when Willa stuck her head in the fridge to cool down!
The three main women in the book are very strong characters; Willa is an astute young girl who doesn't miss a trick; Layla is a naive young lady who has been sheltered by her well to do family but is now living in the real world and surprisingly gets used to it; and Jottie is Willa's Aunt who I desperately wished would get a happy ending, whether she does or not is for you to find out.
Jottie's brother and Willa's Dad, Felix, is a bit of a cad. He's so selfish and just looks out for himself, he doesn't care whose heart he tramples on along the way. He has been quite happy for Jottie to put her life on hold whilst she looks after his two girls and he lives the life of a single man. He's shown in his true colours at the end!
Had I not read Guernsey, I'm sure I would have enjoyed this book but I was always going to compare the two and unfortunately I found this one wanting. I wasn't pulled into the history of this small town, yes there was a secret to be unearthed but alas very little else of interest.
I received this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.