Pub. Date: May 31, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Crown!!)
Summary: Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery’s vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?
Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal.
As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Family Saga, SECRETS
Would it be a total cop-out for me to say go buy a copy NOW and be done with it? Because, essentially, that’s what this review (read: incoherent flailing and gushing) amounts to – a love letter to this beautiful, haunting book of the glamorous days of old school Hollywood, a small town turned upside-down by the arrival of a film crew, and a secret steadfastly kept close for over sixty years.
St. Jude, Ohio is all aflutter over the news that their quaint, picturesque town has been chosen as the location for a movie, Erie Canal. In the days leading up to the stars’ arrival, sets are built and the St. Judians vie for roles as extras or work behind the scenes as assistants. By the time the lead stars, Diane DeSoto and Jack Montgomery descend upon the town, excitement is felt by all…except for one young woman, but her excitement is of a different nature. June is set to marry Artie Danvers and it just wouldn’t be proper to make a fool of herself in front of the camera – and the actors.
Sixty years later, Cassie is still reeling from the recent loss of her grandmother June and moves back into the family home. Two Oaks, once a sprawling and commanding mansion, is but a ghost of its former glory: bats have taken up residence in the attic, holes are beginning to form in the ceiling, and the shabby-chic state of the porch is leaning more toward the shabby, rather than chic. Ignoring the ever-growing pile of mail building up in the foyer has become part of Cassie’s daily routine, as is avoiding the telephone (she’s sure creditors and the bank will be on the other end) but the blaring of the doorbell one morning sets her world on end. Legendary actor Jack Montgomery has passed away and he has left his entire fortune ($37 million, to be exact) all to Cassie, convinced he was her grandfather. With Jack’s daughters clearly contesting his will, they make their way to Two Oaks, assistants in tow, determined to get to the bottom of this nonsense.
Two Oaks might have seen better days, but it still remembers those nights when June was young, the nights of parties and laughter, the one night that changed everything.
June is a novel written for me, from the dual era timeline, to the elegance and romance of the golden age of Hollywood, to the Secret (yes, capital S here) that must never come to light. Almost immediately, the novel brought to mind Black Rabbit Hall, one of my Top Reads of 2016, for the simple fact that the house, in this case Two Oaks, is very much a character itself. Two Oaks lives and breathes its past and it feels all the love and heartache it’s seen over the years. Don’t think this is a fantasy novel – it’s not – but I love the idea that a mansion that had been around for so long would grow to care for its family and relish in the Good Ol’ Days.
Alternating between Cassie’s story in 2015 and June’s in 1955, June lets the reader in on its secrets little by little. Slowly Cassie and the Montgomery clan discover what really happened that summer, while June herself lives the events. Just what went on during those weeks of filming that would lead a big time movie star to believe he has a granddaughter? Woven throughout are acts of betrayal, surprising twists, and the constant reiteration (not a bad thing!) that there’s no right way to love.
2014’s Bittersweet ushered forth a slew of reviews from many bloggers and friends and put Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s name on my radar. Two years later I still haven’t read Bittersweet, but my introduction to this amazing and oh so talented author was just as wonderful as I had hoped! I actually didn’t know until just recently that she has several books under her belt, but rest assured I will NOT be going another two years without reading one! I’ve got some serious catching up to do!
If historical fiction, compelling family drama, and a touch of romance are your idea of a good time (and if they are, hello new BFF!) get yourself a copy of June!