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Publication Date: 4/5/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
A special thank you to Penguin and NetGalley, and the author for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Talented Southern storyteller, Kristy Woodson Harvey returns following her charming debut, Dear Carolina, with LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE, another heartwarming inter-generational tale of life, love, family, relationships, and marriage.
Filled with humor, reflections, wit, and wisdom—rich in character, this Southern gem will win your heart. “The lies that matter most are the ones we tell ourselves.”
Reflecting on the wisdom and life experiences obtained, we hear from two women:
Grandmother Lovey, age eighty-seven is Southern proper, a classic, affluent, with an eastern North Carolina accent and flair. A grand lady, she loves to impart her wisdom. Her mother told her that honesty was the most important thing in life.
The truth does not always set you free. The truth destroys lives and shatters the mirror. The truth is shameful and selfish, and better kept to oneself. A paperclip for our lives--White Lies. They are defibrillators that bring us back when we are on the brink of succumbing to the light.
However, Lovey always said true love was something you had to fight for. Her husband, (D-Daddy) has dementia. Living in the past. Slipping into old memories. He is fading away. The girls want them to move to an assisted living and sell the house. Some days he does not remember anyone. Their five grown daughters, want the best for their parents.
Annabelle-the granddaughter, age twenty-three, a college graduate. Lovey is the most influential woman in her life. D-daddy (her grandfather) is a kind man. Generous, humble, forgiving, faithful and true. A man who knew his values and stuck by them. Annabelle is a hopeless romantic.
She was engaged to Holden. She dumped her hedge fund manager fiancé and marries a musician—Ben, she has known for three days. She called off a wedding, three years in the making with a thirty-second phone call and zero explanation, after the save the date announcements were mailed.
Holden was the dependable one. Predictable. He would never cheat and his secretary would always buy her something from Cartier for her birthday. He would also be on his cell phone with always business first. Not what she wanted.
She meets the good-looking, adventure-RV hippie loving musician, Ben. Their free-spirited lifestyle touring, ended when Ben moves them to his charming hometown of Salisbury, NC to help his dad (an accountant) with his business. They are a wealthy family and the couple move into the pool house. She loves Ben and they are madly in love. They have passion.
Annabelle wants a baby. Ben’s mom is a sex therapist, and she is feeling pressure to have a baby -- feeling a bit insecure. They have tried everything, and it is not working. In the meantime, she runs into Holden and he continues to text her –he wants her back.
Though Holden couldn’t get her blood pressure up quite like Ben, he was a master of the romantic gesture. He could whisk her off to Paris at a moment’s notice.
She needs to be busy and involved. She begins working at a nearby church, St. Paul’s. This will take her mind off the pregnancy. She loves her job, and she grows fond of the minister-her new boss, Father Rob, affectionately nicknamed Priest Charming by his parishioners. She had taken a part-time job which turned into full time. She finds her work fulfilling. (maybe something more here). . .
However, she needs friends, living in a small new town. She becomes involved in fund raising and a local girl befriends her. Turns out she betrays her, as well as her husband. She is devastated. She has choices to make. Decisions. She begins second-guessing her entire life.
In the meantime, her grandmother takes a fall, and she is in the hospital. She discovers yet another shocker about her family, a secret—making her rethink marriage, loyalty and love. She had married for love and look where it had gotten her. Miserable. Disgusted. She had to let go of those Cinderella dreams she had since childhood.
Flashing back and forth, with alternating chapters from Lovey and her life as a young girl, (1945-present) her childhood, her strict parents, her love, dating, the war, college, and their re-connection--- ultimately the marriage to Dan—with five daughters and one lovely granddaughter, Annabelle. The challenges of raising a family and a marriage.
We hear the innermost thoughts of Annabelle. She is close to her grandmother. She begins thinking about her life, when she is faced with her own betrayal and lies. Her marriage is not what she planned. She is done with the heart-racing thing.
From the outside, Annabelle has always put her grandparents on a pedestal. Her grandparents are the perfect couple, madly in love. However, when she discovers there is a flaw, she is disappointed. What happened to her grandparents in the past? They protected their family, the best way they could.
What if we had taken a different road? Once you know a thing so huge, you can never unknow it again. Sometimes we become what we hate. Are some things in life better left unsaid?
Thought-provoking: Each chapter in the novel begins with a lesson, or observation that serves as a theme. Life is about choices. In between Lovey and Annabelle, we hear from Sally, Jean, and the other daughters. They have problems as well. From loss, love, and hope. People are flawed and imperfect. Marriage, relationships, family, infidelity, divorce, pregnancy, miscarriage, affairs, lies, secrets, betrayal, and dysfunction. We grow from our misfortunes.
“The meaning of deeper love—the kind of love that ebbs and flows, fights, and forgives. The kind of love that takes a bullet, recovers in the ICU and lives to tell about it.”
I loved Lovey! My favorite part was her story. Priceless. Often, younger generations have no clue the sacrifices, and obstacles our parents and grandparents had to face in a time when things were different. I also loved Cameron—she was rude and sarcastic with a big heart. If you fell in love withDear Carolina, readers will love Lies and Other Acts of Love!
Kristy does an outstanding job with character-development and knows the South! Some parts are laugh out loud! A Charlotte, North Carolina native, loved visiting familiar places, mixed with Kristy’s wit and insights. Enjoyed the Salisbury, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro connections.
Fans of Dorothea Benton Frank, Patti Callahan Henry, Wendy Wax, Mary Kay Andrews, and Joshilyn Jackson, (all my favorites) will delight! For mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and granddaughters- an ideal choice for book clubs, group discussions, and of course a perfect gift for Mother’s Day.
PS. I loved the Montaldo’s reference. I used to shop at Montaldo’s in Winston-Salem, NC years ago – the best shoes!
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