And now for my review of my “Mystery/Thriller Week“ title. It is always a slight gamble when you get a book for review that a) it’s a title you have never heard of before; and, b) you’ve never heard of the author before. This time however, my gamble paid off in spades! I’m certain we’ll be hearing about this author lots more in the future.
“A better truth“ is sort of a hybrid between suspense fiction and women’s fiction. The author weaves her story with skill and the characters are well-drawn and sympathetic.
The protagonist of the story is Willow St. Claire, whom we first meet in her cabin in the North Georgia mountains. She has lived there for three years now. She owns and manages a bookstore in the small town of Blue Ridge, then escapes home to her solitary life which she shares with her two german shepherd dogs – sisters named Lucy and Ethel.Willow has had a very traumatic life and now she relishes the peace and solitude her remote cabin affords her. She is divorced from a egotistical and ambitious lawyer and has a teenage daughter whom she adores. Her daughter, Grace, has elected to live in Washington, D.C. with her father and his new partner. When Grace shows up at her door unannounced one evening, events begin to spiral out of control once again…
We then flashback to Willow’s former life. Her husband, Walter, had been emotionally abusive. So much so that I as the reader just wanted to give him a slap. He was extremely condescending, controlling, demanding, and manipulative. It is obvious to the reader, if not immediately to Willow, that he has married her solely for her family connections. He believes that her adoptive father, Eldon Bishop, (who is a very wealthy Senator), will help him become established in the legal/political world in Washington. He was forever sucking up to people with whom he thought could further his ambition. His goal was to become a ‘person of influence’.
When Grace is born, he absolutely dotes on his new daughter. She becomes quite spoiled and it seems to Willow that Walter and Grace shut her out of their lives. Willow’s mental health seems to be deteriorating… Her high stress lifestyle in Washington as the wife of an ambitious lawyer is playing its toll. Her freelance writing deadlines compete with her increasingly misbehaving daughter and her husband’s constant demands. Willow becomes more and more overwhelmed and is prescribed anti-depressants and tranquilizers. She can no longer differentiate between what is ‘real’ and what is imagined. She begins to suffer from night terrors. But this is not the first time she has been so afflicted.
Willow and her brother Garrett were adopted by the Bishops when Willow was just six years old. They had suffered a horrific trauma by witnessing their birth-mother’s murder.
Events lead up to the present once more and Grace’s daughter in turn suffers from yet another traumatic event whilst visiting her mother’s cabin. Willow’s hard-earned sense of security has been threatened – and stolen. Her beloved daughter is hospitalized in an almost catatonic state.
The reader roots for Willow and her daughter. Walter, her ex-husband makes for one of those characters that you ‘love to hate’.
I loved the title as it seemed to fit the novel so well. Willow, unable to face the horrible truth of her life, has invented a ‘better truth’.
This fast-paced novel kept me enthralled the entire time I was reading it. It speaks to issues of emotional abuse, mental illness, and female independence – all the while maintaining a frisson of suspense leading up to a ‘WOW’ ending. Highly recommended!
I received a digital copy of this novel directly from the author as part of “Mystery/Thriller Week“.
Valerie Joan Connors is the author of four novels.
The child of an artist and a musician, Valerie was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Valerie credits her association with the Atlanta Writers Club for the fact that her four novels were both written and published. She has happily served on the AWC Board since 2011 in nearly every capacity. During business hours, Valerie is the CFO of an engineering firm. She is a dog person, and supports lion, tiger, and elephant conservation efforts, and hopes to raise awareness through her writing. Valerie lives in Norcross, Georgia, with her husband and two rescue dogs. She is working on her next novel.