Monday, March 10, 2014

Tea and Primroses, by Tess Thompson

Booktrope, February 2014

Constance Mansfield, reclusive bestselling author, is killed suddenly, struck by a car while riding her bike from her home into the little Oregon town of Legley Bay. This is shock enough for her daughter Sutton, and their little circle of friends as close as family, but it's not the worst.

The worst is that it appears to have been no accident. Constance was run down intentionally, deliberate murder.

With this startling opening, the book proceeds to ex;lore relationships among Sutton's generation, most critically her relationship with Declan Treadwell, son of her mother's friend and housekeeper Roma, who also died in a car accident some years earlier, and Constance's own unsuspected past.

Among the things Constance has left behind for her daughter is a manuscript, not another novel, but the story of her year in Vermont, never mentioned, unsuspected by anyone except her own closest and oldest friends. Does this manuscript hold the answer to her death?

Thompson does a wonderful job of exploring the complicated emotions and relationships, and interleaving the two stories, Constance's thirty years ago, and Sutton's now. She draws the reader in, revealing the characters' strengths and weaknesses, and the dark, unsuspected secrets of Constance's life. One of the impressive features is that characters are allowed to be imperfect. The local police chief is the ex-husband of one of Constance's best friends. He was a lousy husband, but he's a good cop and a loyal friend. There are other such details throughout the story, and it adds a depth and reality that's often lacking in fiction.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher.