Friday, March 18, 2016

Suzanne Morris - Galveston

+Random House Publishing Group
+Amazon India
+Kindle Store

In the year 1877, Claire married Charles Becker after being abandoned by his brother Damon.  She cannot bring herself to love Charles after knowing passion with his brother but she carries on with her married life dutifully.  She even moves to Galveston from Grady (in Oklahoma? The novel does not clarify).

Her deep-rooted unhappiness at being trapped in a love-less marriage makes her unstable.  She forms an infatuation for a parson living next door, Rubin Garret.  She dislikes his wife Janet and can barely get along with her.  To overcome her feeling of ennui, she beings prodding her husband to be more high profile and successful so she may also have the benefit of a glamorous lifestyle.

Will she succeed in her ambition of becoming a high-society woman?  Or will she fail at everything?

Serena Garret is the adopted daughter of Rubin and Janet.  The second part of the book is the story of her nineteenth year, in the year 1899.  Serena has a steady beau, Nick Weaver.  She has no intention of marrying him, though.   She has also become very attached to James Byron, who is the son of Ruth, the daughter of Claire's cousin.  He is like a kid brother and companion to her.

In this year, her heart is stolen by a travelling musician, Roman Cruz,  who is playing at the Seaside Pavilion.  At the end of the year, she decides to run away with Roman. She is not happy about the way Claire seems to be poking her nose into her affairs.

The third part begins in the year 1920 in Houston.  Willa is on the verge of marrying Rodney Younger when she discovers a tattered carpetbag in the attic.  She knows it belongs to her mother.  Before she can bring herself to marry Rodney, she has to find out who her mother was.  She runs away from the parents who adopted her in a bid to uncover the mystery of her past.

In the third part, all the secrets hidden by Claire and Serena tumble out.  We learn the outcome of the unfinished stories of the two women and how they are tied to Willa's story.

The 20-year jump between the three stories is interesting. With the change of each generation, the world changes a bit.  There is a huge gap between 1877, when Claire's story starts, and 1920 when Willa's story starts.  This change is skilfully brought out by Suzanne.  We are able to get a feel of the era that the character belongs to.   The story grips our interest and keeps us glued to the book.

The story of Claire, I feel, could have been shorter.  It seems to be going places quite pointlessly.  It is the longest part of the book (or so it feels).  The stories of Serena and Claire are pithy and neat.  Serena's story is very poignant and tugs at your heartstrings.

All the revelations that happen after Willa starts digging into her past are a bit overwhelming at times. Here too, the author meanders a bit, filling us in on unnecessary details.  Things happen too quickly and too conveniently to allow us to believe them.

These flaws apart, the book is a gripping read.  It is a very good romance novel about the recent past, full of intrigues and secret love affairs.

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