From the depths of my living room bookshelf at this grand time of social distancing, comes this dreamy novel written by Meredith Jaeger and published waaayyyy back in the year 2018. You know… when there wasn’t a Corona Virus.
Anyhow, in this clever story, Jaeger takes us to California, more specifically the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where she weaves a tale which spans seven decades, bouncing between pre-war (at least for America) 1940s, and the more modern, 2007.
In 1940, Violet Harcourt, struggles to become an on-screen star amidst a pre-war American era of big-movie production. But a big secret, and the dangerous presence of her husband Charles, means that her fate takes a dark twist.
In 2007, Mari Cruz, balances the duties of single motherhood, complicated relationships, and making ends meet. But Mari truly aspires to achieve her ultimate dream of becoming an Historian.
The stories of the two women collide when Mari finds an account of Violet’s death; suicide by jumping off the cliff edge at West Cliff Drive. As Mari starts to unearth Violet’s tumultuous past; a Miss California career cut short, a suspiciously short stint in Hollywood, and a strange and sudden death; she stumbles onto her own story and the lives of the two women start to weave together.
The premise is excellent, Jaeger writes an early page turner and manages to create a dramatic and titillating plot early on. Both protagonists are likeable, both have very relateable problems and both are interesting. The plot twists are entertaining enough, though at times a little predictable- Mari’s connection to the Harcourts, for example, was not so surprising.
Where the book deviated slightly for me was in its ending, which read less like an Historical drama and more like a romance novel. In other words, everyone has a happy and well rounded finale. Additionally, I think that Jaeger looses some track in terms of character depth, which would have probably created even more word count for her, but would have certainly added to the story, particularly because Jaeger is trying to address big issues of culture, discrimination, patriarchal dominance, and sociological issues during war-time era. .
Now all that said, this is a great page-turner. This is a breezy beautiful novel which shows the power of woman-hood and the end result of great sacrifices. It shows the perseverance and tenacity of strong women, and emphasizes the connection between time and between people.
If you enjoy a light, breezy novel with a mystery and a twist, this is for you. Jaeger’s descriptions of California are simply divine, you’ll step right in. Her knowledge of the Santa Cruz area is also fantastic and definitely adds to the credibility and the aesthetics of this book.
I would definitely recommend this for your social distancing reading list, you will find an interesting story with a feel-good ending that will lift your spirits and make your day lighter.