The New York Times bestselling author of Always imagines life on Boat Street, a floating community on Seattle’s Lake Union, home to people of artistic spirit who for decades protect the dark secret of one startling night in 1959.
Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street in search of inspiration and new opportunities. When she discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier, she is immediately drawn into this long lost story. Ever-curious, Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but does not suspect that Penny’s mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge...
Jio's fifth novel, following The Last Camellia, explores the degree to which time and distance give comfort to those who have experienced loss. In 2008, Ada Santorini's life in New York as deputy editor of Sunrise magazine is shaken by personal tragedy. She leaves her job and rents a houseboat on Seattle's Lake Union, hoping a change of location will provide the healing she needs. Yet her new home has its own tragedy the disappearance in 1959 of a local woman, Penny Wentworth, which no one in the small, tight-knit community will discuss. When Ada finds a trunk in her houseboat and realizes it belonged to the missing woman, she and her new friend Alex, a neighboring houseboat renter, decide to uncover the truth. The growth of Ada and Alex's relationship as they work together is satisfying, but the beautifully rendered setting emerges as an equally important character. However, the flashbacks to 1959 are so strong that readers may lose patience with the present-day narrative, while the town's secret is too easy to figure out. Fans of Jio's previous works should find that the depth of feeling in her writing overcomes the drawbacks.
Well worth the wait
A beautifully written story about love and loss, forgiveness and strength. The past of Penny Wentworth is beautifully weaved together with the present story of Ada Santorini. Both women disappear; one by accident and other intentionally, trying to outrun her loss and pain. Although one reviewer was not happy with the epilogue, I was grateful for it. Sometimes, you just need to know the details. Yes, there is a tad of predictability within this book, nor did I feel it had the same depth as The Bungalow or The Last Camellia, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5, but there are also surprises. I love the way Sarah Jio breathes life into her characters. Her female characters are always strong, smart and have a tough survival instinct. This book was worth the wait, and I'll be waiting for Sara Jio's next book to come out.