Through generations of a Kentucky bourbon family, this novel of sisterhood, secrets, regret and absolution “is rich with drama and family intrigue” (Publishers Weekly).
For the Butler family of Glass Ferry, Kentucky, bourbon has been a way of life for generations. Beauregard “Honey Bee” Butler, was known for making some of the best whiskey in the state. Only one person was entrusted with Honey Bee’s secret recipes before he passed on: his daughter Flannery.
But Flannery is harboring other secrets too—about her twin sister Patsy, older by eight minutes and pretty in a way Flannery knows she’ll never be. Then, on prom night, Patsy disappears along with her date. Every succeeding year on the twins’ birthday, Flannery’s mother bakes a strawberry cake, convinced that Patsy will finally come home. But it will be two tumultuous decades until the muddy river yields a clue about what happened that night, compelling Flannery to confront the truth about her sleepy town, her family’s past, and the choices she and those closest to her have made in the name of love.
Richardson (Liar's Bench) brings to life Glass Ferry, Ky., in this multigenerational tale about the bond between sisters, family secrets, fine bourbon, and the lingering price of loss. Flannery Butler grew up in rural 1950s Kentucky under the shadow of two kinds of secrets: the secret whiskey recipes her father entrusted to her, and darker secrets about her twin sister, Patsy, who disappeared the night of their 16th birthday. Two decades have passed since then, and the Butler family is tied to their traditions from the burning pleasures of whiskey to the sweet strawberry cake that Flannery's mother, Jean Butler, bakes yearly and sets on the window sill for her daughters' birthday. When the pie Jean cooks on Patsy's birthday in 1972 finally stirs up the truth behind her disappearance, Flannery must confront her past. Told in flashbacks spanning over two decades from 1952 to 1972 the story is strongest when it focuses on the relationship between the sisters and how it slowly becomes colored by ominous portent. Elsewhere, Richardson's writing feels stilted particularly the dialogue, which unsuccessfully attempts to differentiate the characters and falls flat throughout. Despite this, Richardson's bourbon-infused saga is rich with drama and family intrigue.