Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The View from Prince Street by Mary Ellen Taylor

Mary Ellen Taylor is another author I've discovered in the past few years that I have grown to enjoy.  Yes, she has entered the category of "immediately purchase" whenever she has a new book published. This is her fourth book, and I was happy to dive back into Alexandria, Virginia and all the characters from her past novels.  It's my humble opinion that in order to get the most out of this book, you should read all the previous books first:  The Union Street Bakery, Sweet Expectations,  and At the Corner of King Street.  I've reviewed them all, so click on the titles to see my reviews.  You don't have to read them, but I believe it makes for a better story when you know the history of the characters.  Mary Ellen Taylor has made a hybrid of sorts:  The Union Street Bakery  and Sweet Expectations are a duo, and then At the Corner of King Street  and The View from Prince Street are another duo.  Characters from the first three novels all appear in Prince Street.  These books are all perfect for a reader who enjoys early American history, relationships between sisters and friends, contemporary issues, and a hint of mystery and the paranormal.  Once again, my history geek jumps out.  I would love love love to visit Alexandria, Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area again.  I had a chance years ago to visit Washington, D.C. for a weekend and have never forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  Someday, I'll go back.  

Prince Street features Rae McDonald and Lisa Smyth, two women connected by the death years before of Rae's older sister Jennifer.  Lisa and Jennifer were best friends and Lisa survived the car accident that killed Jennifer.  Lisa is a recovering alcoholic who travels the country as a photographer, while Rae still lives in her family home in Alexandria and has a successful practice as a therapist.  Both women are a bit of a mess.  Rae is emotionally withdrawn, and Lisa has regular conversations in her head with Jennifer.  Neither has seen each other in years.  Lisa is forced to return to Alexandria to take care of her ailing Aunt Amelia, who has Alzheimer's disease and suddenly confesses she was adopted as a child--and has proof, but no explanation of why her mother never came back for her. 

Enter in Margaret and Addie from the Shire Architectural Salvage Company, who arrive at Rae's house to look over the boxes of letter and documents passed down through Rae's family.  Over 300 years of family history, and a mystery to be solved.  Three witch bottles, three families, and a dark secret that stretches back to the early days of Alexandria.  How are the families connected, and do the witch bottles carry curses that have doomed each descendant of the original settlers?   Can Rae and Lisa find a way to break out of their self-imposed prisons and move on with their lives?  And how do all the dots connect together?  

There is a lot going on in this novel.  Luckily, the author has family trees set up at the beginning of the book.  I found myself looking at them over and over, trying to keep everyone straight.  It is a tangled mix of history that is fascinating and makes for a good story.  Can't wait to see what Mary Ellen Taylor has in store for her next novel.  

Rating:  7/10 for a continuation of family and city history that keeps revealing secrets made hundreds of years ago.  Strong female characters faced with emotional issues that will make or break them.  I love how all the novels by Mary Ellen Taylor fit together, but are distinctly different.  

Available in paperback and  e-book.  

1 comment :

  1. My dad's sister lived with her husband and two adopted kids in Alexandria, VA when I was growing up. We visited them frequently since we lived in New Jersey and it was a fairly short drive. So I saw all the good sites in DC and the surrounding area. I don't know how it is these days, but I felt I was seeing the history I studied in school. You should for sure go!