About this book: What if everything you believed to be true was a lie?
Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.
Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.
About the author: (excerpted from her website and other sources) Nicole Baart wants to live in a world filled with handwritten letters, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and great conversation.
A critically acclaimed novelist, Nicole’s work has been featured as a Midwest Connections book pick, nominated for a Christy Award, and earned a starred and featured review from Publishers Weekly. In 2011 she co-authored a book that debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Nicole is the mother of four children from four different countries. The co-founder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, and a world traveler, she splits her time between her home in small town Iowa and Liberia, West Africa. Nicole’s eight novels range from romantic to suspenseful, but she is known for her artistic prose and finely drawn characters. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary/Book Club/Women’s Fiction
Why I read this book: Because I know I can count on Nicole Baart to write a novel that’s both beautiful and significant: a story that matters.
First impressions: Love at first sight. Cover art, first lines–the whole package.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13. Rare profanity and mature situations.
Reminds me of… The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran
Will especially appeal to… socially conscious women who enjoy an exquisitely rendered story.
This story matters because… as with all of Nicole’s stories, it celebrates “the triumph of the human spirit and beauty in the midst of brokenness.”*
[Tweet “”Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage…” @NicoleLynnBaart”]
My take: This book was, for me, a gift–first, as an unexpected offer from the author after a serendipitous Twitter connection; but second, and more significantly, as an experience. The kind of literary experience that’s all too rare yet much sought after. The Beautiful Daughters is the kind of women’s fiction I love. Honest and true, written with such pathos that even if you can’t relate to a particular situation…you can.
In The Beautiful Daughters, every complex character is intricately honed, and even the most unsympathetic ones ring true to life. I relished the story’s shadows and mystery, the gradual peeling back of memories and unfolding of relationships–all of which kept me turning the pages long past my bedtime. From cover to thematic premise (re-read that quote by St. Augustine…does it not stir your soul?), to *story* and setting and characters–this novel has it all.
Engrossing and multi-layered, The Beautiful Daughters was a book I could hardly put down. And weeks later, I’m still reflecting on the characters, their choices and imagined futures. Reflecting also on their real-life counterparts, wondering how I might be a part of the answer to their prayers.
I suppose this, in the end, was the greatest gift The Beautiful Daughters delivered: Hope. An understanding that while evil surely exists, so does goodness–and the confidence that when Anger and Courage unite, goodness prevails.
[Tweet “A beautiful addition to my favorites shelf: #BeautifulDaughters @NicoleLynnBaart”]
Thanks to the author for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
* from her bio
After words: To me, The Beautiful Daughters is a fine example of Women’s Fiction at its best–a novel written by a woman, about women, for women. But is “Women’s Fiction” a legitimate genre–or an insult? Is it a useful tag for identifying a book type and intended audience–or is it sexist? I’m a bit late to this conversation, having only recently picked up its vibes in the blogosphere. Learning that WF is now considered controversial came as a surprise. Me, I love WF. Love reading it, love writing it. I don’t feel it limits me, or the author, or the market, or puts anyone in a box. In my way of thinking, it says nothing about literary-ness or quality. But I understand many disagree. Do you?