'The Bookshop at Water's End' wraps readers in warmth
Review by Glenda Harris
Though summer has passed, anytime is a perfect time for a new book by one of Bluffton's favorite authors, Patti Callahan Henry.
Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry, "The Bookshop at Water's End" is a sweet Southern tale that engages the reader instantly, not letting go until the last sentence.
Henry is the best-selling author of 12 books including this latest one, published in July. She has been nominated multiple times for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Novel of the Year. Henry divides her time between homes in Mountain Brook, Ala., and Bluffton with her husband and three children.
"The Bookshop at Water's End" is set in the fictional town of Watersend, S.C., where an old family summer home holds special memories, both good and bad. When Bonny Blankenship was 11 years old, her parents bought a home on the coast, situated between the river and the ocean, as a place for the family to escape the hustle and bustle of living in Atlanta. The Blankenships invite friends to join them that first summer at the "river house."
Over three lazy idyllic summers, Bonny forges a lifelong friendship with Lainey and Owen, the daughter and son of her parents' friends. Decades later, Bonny calls her childhood friend, hoping to convince her to return to the old summer house, which Bonny now owns. Bonny believes returning to the memory-filled river house and finishing the renovations there will help balance and ease the conflicts in her mind.
With two life-changing events bookending this story, readers will laugh, cry, hope and love with Bonny and Lainey as they come to grips with unexpected twists and turns in their lives and reconcile old memories and feelings.
A bit of teenage angst, a love story (or two, or three), the specter of sadness and loss, a decades-long mystery, passions lived, lost and found once again - as well as the universal greatest fear of every mother - are all included in this novel.
This is an easy-to-read book graced with multi-generational characters who forge strong and sometimes unexpected relationships, surely worthy of populating more than just this one book.
Family and longtime friends are the framework, the touchstone, the sweetness and substance of our lives and Patti Callahan Henry is unsurpassed in the art of unfolding a story that wraps around us like a favorite blanket - at least for a few days.
Glenda Harris of Bluffton is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.