THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END by Patti Callahan Henry
Some “summer” books have the capacity to stay with you all year round. Such is the case with Patti Callahan Henry’s new novel THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END. From page one until the final page my mind kept saying “I don’t want this book to end!”. It is that good, because the characters are that real and the plot is that involving. Henry has done good work in the past but this is her best novel to date.
The story concerns two women who have been friends since they were eleven years old. They met when their parents summered together in Watersend, South Carolina. Bonny and Lainey were such good friends they were known around town as the “summer sisters”. But in the summer when they were thirteen a tragedy occurred. Lainey’s mother went missing. Since that event Lainey has never returned to Watersend.
Now, thirty-something years later, Lainey gets a call from Bonny asking her to come to Watersend with her two children and stay a couple of weeks. At first Lainey is adamant about not going back but under persuasion from Bonny finally agrees. Bonny has fled to Watersend as a refuge to a myriad of events swirling through her life. (1) She is a doctor at the ER in Charleston and a man has died on her watch. (2) She has fallen out of love with her husband and wants to escape his domineering ways. (3) She wants a chance to help her daughter Piper find her way in life. Piper has been kicked out of college for too much partying, plus she has boyfriend problems.
The reuniting of these two women and the way they face the problems in their lives makes for a fascinating book. Henry is at her best when creating complex female characters and Bonny and Lainey are two of her best. The reader gets to know these women so thoroughly that closing the book is like losing a friendship. But then you realize as long as you have the book you can visit them again and again. Plus it is hoped Ms. Henry will update their status with future novels.
Not many books call for a sequel but for me this one does. I particularly want to know more about the male characters in the story: (1) Lucas, Bonny’s estranged husband (2) Owen, Lainey’s brother and Bonny’s longed for love interest (3) Tim, Lainey’s long suffering husband (4) Fletch, Piper’s new boyfriend who lives in Watersend. I finished this novel having really gotten to know the women but feeling at a distance from the male inhabitants of the story.
THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END presents fans of Henry’s writing with a more mature and knowing style. Her two main characters have been to hell and back and are the stronger for it. We see their evolution and glory in their growth. It is a story of redemption and every reader can relate to that experience in one way or the other.
Those of us who are long time fans of Patti Callahan Henry’s talent welcome this new novel with open arms and open hearts. It has been a while since her last story but THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END was definitely worth the wait.
THE BOOKSHOP AT WATER’S END is published byBerkley Books. It contains 352 pages and sells for $16.00.
Jackie K Cooper