Publication date: July 2019
Review, short version: Three skunks out of four (because it wasn’t a total stinker)
Review, long version:
A friend of my parents – who was also an avid reader – said, “I give a book 40 pages. If it hasn’t grabbed me by then, I’m done with it.”
I took that to heart, and don’t waste my time on a book that doesn’t grab me.
While I can’t say Mary Ellen Taylor’s Spring House actually grabbed me, it was holding my interest – to page 40 and beyond. It’s of a genre I like – Young-Woman-Uncovers-Secrets-From-Her-Past – and there are lots of these books out there.
The blurb on the back cover reads, “The lives of two women, generations apart, converge in this enthralling novel of love, mystery, memories, and secrets,” and that description pretty much covers it.
Except for the “enthralling” part.
A more accurate adjective would have been “confusing.” Or “muddled.” Or, “Who the hell?” I did a lot of “Who the hell-ing?” with this book.
Taylor starts out with a family tree:
And when a book has numerous characters, I appreciate that and refer to it.
A family tree is a good road map for who’s who, except when there are a lot of whos (relatives) who aren’t on the tree, yet play roles – some of them significant – in the book.
For example (brace yourself – this will get exhausting), the lead character, Megan Buchanan, has a cousin, Hank Garrison, who is on the family tree. Hank has a sister, Rebecca, but she’s not on the family tree. (From now on I’ll abbreviate that to NOFT, so I don’t get even more exhausted typing it over and over.)
Megan’s great-grandmother, Claire Hedrick, has parents, Addie and Isaac (NOFT) and siblings Diane, Jemma, Michael, Sarah, Joseph and Stanley (NOFT). Then there’s Samuel Jessup, a relative of Megan’s who is on the family tree. Samuel has four brothers (NOFT) – Stanley, Joseph, Michael and Aaron, though Aaron marries Adele (NOFT) who’s the daughter of the above-mentioned Diane (NOFT), who married Gilbert (NOFT).
Confusing? Muddled? Who the hell?
That same Samuel Jessup was Helen’s (NOFT) late husband’s grand uncle. Helen is the mother of Scott (NOFT).
Scott and Megan are somehow blood relatives, and they’re engaged.
And Megan is…not very bright. She’s engaged to Scott, “But she had known from the beginning they were not really suited.”
So what does Megan do? She gets pregnant.
See? Not bright at all.
In addition to trying to connect and keep track of all the NOFTs, Spring House jumps around to many different time periods: 2018, 1903, 1939, 2017, 1914 and 1918, and then I lost track.
Then there’s Spring House itself, which was the caretaker’s home on the grounds of a mansion called Winter Cottage. Both were built by Megan’s great-great grandfather, but not for his first wife, Megan’s great-great grandmother, but for his second wife, who is on the family tree but is not a blood relative, and by now…
A friend was reading my book reviews on this blog and said, “You read a lot of stinkers,” referring to my skunk rating system.
I start a lot of stinkers, but I don’t finish them.
Spring House is another one, which begs the question:
Why did I finish it?
Because the stinkers are such fun…