Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 10/6/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Emily Hemmer delivers a poignant novel WYNN IN DOUBT, inspired by Lena, and the women in her own family who inherited her legacy. It is all about Go. Dream as Big as You Can. Have the Life You Want. Do Not Settle for Less! An emotional journey of self-discovery with wit, mystery, and intrigue.
WYNN IN DOUBT grabs you at “hello”, the preface, by the author. Emily’s great-great-grandmother’s name was Lena Buchanan. She inspired the book; however, unfortunately her life did not have a happy ending. It was cut short by a brutal tragedy. She was a wife, mother, sister, and daughter—a kind lovely woman, thirty years old. You see, in 1917, a woman—a mother of three small children--dared to step out and filed for a divorce. The courage it took for her to leave the life she had, public scrutiny, financial hardship—a life altering decision, in a time when women did not stand up for themselves.
Her husband, thought differently, and ended both their lives.
This is powerful stuff. Even though as the author points out, this is not Lena’s story; however, what if? What if she had moved, made new friends, got to explore her hopes and dreams, or possibly true love.
Hemmer explores a different ending. She gives her a story. One that allowed her to be brave in a different more accepting time. Five generations of women. It is Wynn’s story. She is asking if there is more? Seek what makes you happy. You only have one life to live. Do not waste it.
Wynn is second guessing her life. She is stuck in a dead end job, and still dreams of the one who got away. Oliver Reeves. Of course there have been others since this time—however, what if? She resents her own life.
She had been offered a teaching position at a small school in Guatemala, run by a non-profit out of Chicago. They called and offered her the job and she said yes. She wanted a reason to leave—to become someone else. Her grandmother thought she was being selfish (boy have I head this line over the years). After a tragedy, she turned the job down due to the family.
Oliver is back in town, and upon the death of her grandmother she uncovers a cardboard box. Secrets. Clippings. Letters. A diary. From past to present starting in 1931 in Kentucky, we learn about Michael Albert Craig and Lola Elizabeth Harrison. From federal agents, bootlegging, a sting operation, a show girl, car theft, and all sorts of activities.
Her great-grandmother, died when Grams was a little girl in the 1920s. But the name in the article? How was it that her great-grandmother was running whiskey in Kentucky when she was supposed to be six feet under in Illinois? What was she looking for? Something more? Fear, doubt, uncertainty…did she feel trapped, so she ran away?
Finding out why Lola left and what happened to her quickly becomes an obsession for Emily. She feels she cannot move forward in her own life, if she does not uncover the secrets. Gram’s resentments, her family’s expectations, and her own doubts..the things that weigh her down. At times she feels the weight will bury her alive.
Oliver helps her as they begin the journey to find answers of the past. Wynn used to fantasize about a secret family --to come and rescue her from her boring life and take her own a dangerous expedition. Possibly, she had not given her family enough credit. Here is a big one! Was Lola the reason Grams reacted the way she did when she had told her of her plans to leave. Was she worried she would abandon her family as her mother had done? She has to find out where she ran to, how, and why?
Wynn and Oliver attempt to put together the missing pieces of her family’s past and unravel the mystery behind her great-grandmother’s disappearance. At the same time Wynn learns something about herself.
My favorite line from her mother: “Go. Figure out what you’re made on. Then come back to us.”
After this moving preface, the book could have ended here, and I would have felt inspired. I was hooked. I am one of those who truly believe to find your purpose in life, will make you ultimately happy and those around you. You cannot always live by other’s standards, as I have seen my mother, aunts, and grandmothers in the past.
Wow, a fabulous story —can Wynn give up her safe routine to test her limits and be the woman she has dreamed of? You will laugh and cry as you relive the past. I am always intrigued by strong women of the past and their secrets.
I am not a huge fan of chick-lit or romance fan; however, WYNN IN DOUBT, offers much more, with a spice of historical fiction, contemporary, mystery, adventure and suspense. Inspiring.
Thanks for giving your great-grandmother a new ending-sure she is smiling. Well-done