It's so easy to be distracted by new releases and books that have been added recently to my TBR and are therefore at the top, but recently I made an effort to read some books that have been on my TBR the longest!
The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald (2019)
A mother searches for the truth and what really happened the night her pregnant daughter fell from a bridge, leaving her brain-dead.
I really wanted to love this story, but it just ended being an ok read for me. Even though I didn't guess the ultimate ending, it didn't surprise me at all and I felt that many elements of the plot were predictable. Too much was given away too soon. The writing felt stilted at times. I did enjoy the dual POVs of Abi (the mother) and Olivia (the daughter) and the way the story moved back and forth in time. I also liked the way Abi never stopped searching for the truth, even when she faced opposition, although her actions at times felt a bit unbelievable. 3 stars
The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb (2013)
After her mother's death, Grace Alban returns home to the family mansion. While there, she realizes her mother, and the house, have been hiding secrets for half a century.
This story reminded me of a Kate Morton novel - a stately manor, a mystery to solve - although it takes place in America and the story and writing lacked the finesse of Morton. I liked how Alban House is practically a character all on its own - so much history, so many rumors, maybe even a ghost or two. Seeing the mystery, the death of an author at a party in the 1950s, unfold over the course of the novel was interesting, and I definitely didn't guess the major points. However, Grace was often quite annoying, and unfortunately, when the plot began to include some magical realism, it lost me. It was just such a jarring addition to what had been a fairly straightforward and intriguing story that it took away from my enjoyment. 3.5 stars
Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (2018)
Becoming Mrs. Lewis tells the story of Joy Davidman, C.S. Lewis' wife, from the time they begin their correspondence to their marriage years later. I normally love historical fiction, but this one didn't totally grab me.
When we first meet Joy, she's in an unhappy marriage, but she loves her two sons. She recently found religion and begins writing to author C.S. Lewis, since he also found religion later in life. Their friendship deepens over the years through their letters, and she eventually moves to England. I thought the writing was a little high-brow; the dialogue often felt unrealistic. The story was tedious and often seemed like nothing was actually happening. Joy was quite unlikable at times - she constantly complains about money, but spends frivolously. I did enjoy how she and Lewis worked with each other, especially the way he relied on her to critique his work. It was nice to see how much he valued her intelligence, although I'm not sure I quite felt their love story in this book. 3 stars