Ever put aside a tasty tidbit, perhaps your favorite dark chocolate, postponing the wonderful moment you know you are going to have when you finally eat it? Well, I do that sometimes with books. I know I want to read a certain title, and I am certain I am going to enjoy reading it, but I keep putting it aside and read something else instead. When I see the cover of that special book, I can smile and know that I have a great read coming up. Silly? Perhaps, but it shows I can do delayed gratification, at least in a small matter. LOL.
THE SECOND SISTER by Marie Bostwick was one of those special books, set aside for nearly a whole year. I believe I have read everything Bostwick has published, and I believe she is the only well known author that I have met twice -- once at QUILT EXPO in Madison, and then last year at a book signing/luncheon at NANCY'S NOTIONS. I also follow her on Facebook and often read about what she is doing. When I saw her last spring, THE SECOND SISTER was just publishing, and Bostwick was on tour promoting the book. NN's sponsored a wonderful lunch, and then Marie talked about writing the book, shared some of her quilts, answered audience questions, and signed books. THE SECOND SISTER is set in Door County, a place Marie is quite familiar with, as she and her husband lived in NE Wisconsin for several years early in their marriage. Lucy Toomey shook the Nilson's Bay sand from her feet and left Door County right after high school, never wanting to return. Other than attending her parents' funeral, she has kept her word. Not even her sister's frequent middle of the night phone calls could persuade her to take time from her career as a political campaigner for a visit to Wisconsin's "thumb." Then she gets a call on the eve of the election that makes her drop everything and rush home. Only Lucy is too late.
When we heard Marie Bostwick last spring, she read the first pages of the book which set up the scenario I just relayed. Then she went on to explain a bit more about Lucy and her sister. Alice, just a year or two older than Lucy, had almost drowned as a teenager. Although she survived the accident, she suffered brain trauma and never fully recovered. Depression seemed to haunt Alice, but she fought it and made a life for herself in Nilson Bay, working with animals and quilting in her spare time. Soon after arriving at her sister's Lake Michigan cottage, Lucy finds out that if she wants to inherit, she must commit to spending time there. As she settles in, she meets an eclectic group of women whom the village have dubbed FOA (Friends of Alice), and they are none too happy how Lucy has treated her older, but needier sister over the years. Wanting to walk away from Door County one final time, instead Lucy finds herself staying and discovering Alice's final gift.
Normally when I read a well written book, I quickly become so involved that the book's reality takes over. That the book had an author slips way into the back recesses of my mind. For the first seventy or eighty pages of this book, Marie Bostwick and her engaging personality were too much with me. I kept thinking about her reading the first pages, sharing stories of her days in Northern Wisconsin and how she returned to Door County for a visit before writing the book. As a new detail of the story was revealed, I would remember her talking about it. Finally I realized that all these author/me connections were keeping me from becoming fully enmeshed in the story. So I took a day's break from reading and when I came back, I pushed myself into the story and LOVED it. Finally, it became about Lucy and her life. Yes, I still smiled at any Wisconsin/Door County detail, but I was no longer thinking about Bostwick's writing process. I can't really share too much without slipping in some spoilers and I don't want to do that . Suffice to say that there is romance (but it does not dominate) that the FOA are delightful and quirky, and that Alice kept some surprises from even them. In a note at the end, Bostwick says that this book was written as a stand-alone, but with reader support, she might consider a series. Please return to Door County, Marie, please. I promise I won't wait 10 months after buying the book to read it.
Now that I've finished THE SECOND SISTER, I can get her latest book FROM HERE TO HOME as soon as it comes out this week. FROM HERE TO HOME is the latest installment from her Too Much Texas series and features appearances from characters from the Cobbled Court Quilt series. If you have not read Marie Bostwick and you enjoy gentle, inspirational (but not sappy) fiction, written with both tears and laughs, then you should seek out Marie Bostwick's titles.