Grief remains the strongest bond in Davis’ (Summer at Hideaway Key, 2015, etc.) new novel.
A year after her fiance’s unexpected suicide, Dovie Larkin is still desperate for answers. Ignoring the concern of friends and family, Dovie is a frequent visitor at the cemetery, often bringing her lunch there. During one of these visits, she's struck by the sight of an older woman who is visibly distraught over a popular town monument—a life-sized statue known as Alice’s Angel. This grave has always been surrounded by an air of mystery—why did the young maid of one of Charleston’s wealthiest families warrant such an elaborate memorial in the family plot? The stranger’s grief at the gravesite is curious to Dovie, as Alice Tandy has been dead for more than 30 years. When the old woman drops a letter at the grave, Dovie’s curiosity gets the better of her and she snatches it up and reads it. The woman turns out to be Alice's estranged mother, and learning about the rift between mother and daughter, and the circumstances that led Alice to cross the sea from the Blackhurst Asylum for Unwed Mothers in England to Charleston, South Carolina, is far too compelling for Dovie to ignore. She discovers a trove of letters from Alice, somehow still tucked away in the cemetery’s lost and found, and learns just why Alice earned such a grand monument after all. Dovie admits what she has learned to Dora Tandy, and together they dig into the secrets that have been buried away for years. On the topic of grief, Davis writes, “It was inconvenient and intrusive, not quite contagious but the next thing to it.” Though they met merely by chance, together Dovie and Dora delve into the mysteries of the past and start on the long and complicated path toward closure and healing.
While Davis crafts compelling characters, her overreliance on secrets and plot gimmicks muddies the narrative.