This is the type of novel I love reading over the holidays, particularly when the weather is frightful. It's a story that spans several generations of women: Maria, the first daughter whose sins affect her entire family as the years progress, Isabel (Maria's first daughter) who is murdered one summer night in 1962, Julie, who is certain her actions killed her sister and, Shannon, Julie's daughter making the same choices as her grandmother, Maria. Then, of course, are the men who were involved with them. The story plods along, sometimes it is downright sluggish, but the denouement is definitely worth waiting for: some aspects I guessed, others were a complete surprise.
The Bay at Midnight is as much about family secrets and the complexities of relationships, especially between mothers and daughters, as it is a mystery about who killed 17-year-old Isabelle Bauer in summer 1962. New evidence suggests the man convicted of the murder was innocent, and protaganists Julie and Ethan set about trying to determine who Isabelle's killer really was.
This isn't a suspenseful book. Chamberlain focuses enough on the challenging interpersonal relationships between characters that the compulsion to learn who the perpetrator was becomes nearly secondary. Some aspects of the story seemed overly convenient -- the speed at which Julie and Ethan's romance develops and Shannon's decision to return home almost immediately after moving to Colorado, for instance. It's an interesting study, though, of the ways deeply guarded famiy secrets can have horrible, far-reaching and long-term consequences.
I enjoyed this one with it's mystery, family secrets and dynamics. An added bonus for me was that "Julie" was born the same year I was, so got to remininisce about several things such as playing "Uncle Wiggley." themes of human mistakes, guilt, forgiveness and evolving relationships.
What really happened the night her sister died? Julie needs to dig through the secrets that surround her family and the neighbours from that summer fourty years ago. Told from numerous points of view, the story is engaging, the characters interesting, and the ending unexpected.
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