published July 31, 2012
“Sometimes,” I said, “I think my being sad about her dying is the most selfish thing. I mean, where it comes from. Because it’s maybe not just about being sad for her–but being sad for myself, and missing how we were together. Coming back to her was always like being reminded of that part of myself, reminded that it was still there. And without her, how am I going to remember to do that?”
In this novel, Emily Arsenault explores the friendship of two women as their story is interspersed between country music vignettes and a murder mystery.
Gretchen’s first work, Tammyland, tells the story of famous country singers such as Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline. But the lyrics, and the loneliness, resonate within Gretchen’s own life. Gretchen’s publisher liked the idea of a companion book to Tammyland so much that Gretchen decided to make it personal and search for her real father…”she was going to write about that in terms of the country music guys.”
But before her second book is even close to being completed, Gretchen is found dead from an alleged fall down some library steps. Her college friend, Jamie Madden, is made the literary executor of her Gretchen’s work. During the course of her investigation, both as a friend and as a way to get to the bottom of what happened, Jamie reads Gretchen’s notebooks, listens to Gretchen’s interviews on audio tape, and returns to Gretchen’s hometown of Emerson, New Hampshire, in order to discover the truth about her demise. While she conducts her research, strange things begin happening to her: Jamie’s house is broken into, her laptop stolen, and as she comes closer to the truth, even Gretchen’s notebooks have been taken from Jamie’s motel room. It is clear that somebody does not want the truth about Gretchen’s paternity to be discovered. It is too easy to put the blame on Gretchen’s mother, who was long accused of being a loose woman.
While this novel is perfect for someone who loves country music, it fell short as a mystery to me. I enjoyed the parallels between the emotional wounds suffered in famous country singers’ lives and those of the characters’ lives, but as a murder mystery I found it to be drawn out beyond what my interest could bear. We arrive at a neatly wrapped up conclusion, but at that point it didn’t matter much to me. Gretchen’s dead, Jamie anticipates a new baby; one woman’s life is over, another’s life is just beginning. I wanted to care about them more than I actually did.
Thanks to TLC tours for the opportunity to read and review this book. Find other reviews here:
Tuesday, July 31st: A Bookworm’s World
Wednesday, August 1st: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, August 2nd: nomadreader
Monday, August 6th: Life is Short. Read Fast.
Tuesday, Augut 7th: Reading Lark
Thursday, August 9th: Wordsmithonia
Monday, August 13th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, August 14th: The Lost Entwife
Wednesday, August 15th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, August 16th: Drey’s Library
Monday, August 20th: Twisting the Lens
Tuesday, August 21st: Bookstack