Barbara Davis is the author of SUMMER AT HIDEAWAY KEY. It took place in Florida and was my first experience reading her fiction. I really enjoyed it. So I was anxious to read LOVE, ALICE.
LOVE, ALICE, takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s baked in Southern charm, heat, and plenty of mystery.
I fell hard for Charleston a few years ago when my husband and I visited Charleston. We were lucky enough to have a friend with a lovely home just outside the city. We stayed in the house for a week in October. What a treat. We tromped the old city streets and visited the pristine beaches. So I have a feel for the story’s sense of place.
Dovie Larkin is still suffering from the loss of her fiance. You see, he committed suicide a few weeks before their wedding. No one knows why. Well, surely someone must. But that’s part of the story. Dovie can’t shake it. She visits his grave every single day. One day she notices a woman who seems to be grieving as she is. And this woman leaves a letter on a grave. Dovie reads it after the woman leaves. She reads that this woman is asking for forgiveness from her daughter for something awful she’s done.
The devastating mystery that envelops this story begins in Cornwall, England in the sixties when a young woman is sent away to Blackhurst Asylum for Unwed Mothers. Davis has done lots of research and unearthed more than a little stuff that really happened. As much as I love Charleston, this part of the story in Cornwall in the sixties was the icing on the cake for me. I found myself slapping through the pages to get to the chapters in England.
The author’s note at the end of the book gives you so much more information about the Magdalene Laundries. Davis was so compelled to learn about this that she did extensive research on the topic. It is amazing that this could have happened. I watched a movie a couple years ago called PHILOMENA. It was based on a true story. It helped to “out” these awful places. Davis did not begin writing her novel with the intent of writing about the laundries, but could not help herself, in the end.
Prepare yourself for a sweeping new Southern fiction novel about forgiving the past one handwritten letter at a time.
You’ll find a very helpful reader’s guide and some fun recipes at the end of the novel.
My lovely copy came from Berkley Publishing House, a division of Penguin Random House.