Rural Michigan, 1934.
When her new husband Sam perishes in a bizarre farm accident, would-be milliner Polly soon becomes the prime suspect in his murder. As she digs for evidence to clear her name, Polly falls into a sinister web implicating her in a nefarious crime ring being investigated by White House Police. Polly’s life and those of her family are at stake.
Narrated by Polly, her self-righteous older sister, Sarah, and Sarah’s well-meaning, but flawed husband Wesley, a Methodist minister, the story follows several twists through the landscape of the rural Midwest. During the throes of the Great Depression Polly marries for money. After her husband Sam dies in a freak farm accident, new bride Polly assumes she is financially set to pursue her dream of opening a hat-making business. Instead, she becomes the prime suspect in Sam’s murder. Secrets abound and even Polly’s family can’t figure out the truth. [BookBub]
Told in the POVs of three persons, Polly Forrest, her sister Sarah, and her brother-in-law, the Reverend Wesley Johnson, the tale is woven through the perilous, deprived times of the depression in 1934, Michigan.
Polly’s husband Sam is killed in a farm accident and it isn’t long before she becomes a suspect. Her sister, who lives up the hill on the adjacent property with the reverend is also implicated. Sarah is the typical depression era housewife and mother of two young boys and a baby daughter. The oldest of the two sisters, she was fundamentally responsible for raising her much young sister, Polly, who had been spoiled before their mother passed.
Polly remains immature, making bad decisions and one was her marriage to Sam who appeared to have money but turns out to be abusive. Polly tries to hide injuries and she denies any problem, but Sarah suspects the truth, so she quietly wonders if Polly had had enough and “helped” her husband to his death by bull.
Living on boiled potatoes and bean soup, thoroughly patched and repatched clothing, most are living hungry with the threat of losing their farms and a roof over their heads. The reverend is losing his congregation. Polly, now desperate, is beginning to discover secrets around Sam’s farm she hadn’t known about which might make a small difference in her financial recovery. But there are others who might also have interest in those as well.
I wasn’t able to really engage in either sister or the reverend. Polly feels more like Petulant Polly and Sarah as an overworked and underappreciated workmate who had put up with her sister until she could no longer—no love lost. There were themes of domestic abuse, friendship, secrets, and felonious crimes. All characters are flawed.
Chapters alternate on each perspective while events begin to occur that gradually change the demeanor of Polly. This is often illustrated by naming Polly as Patient Polly, Impetuous Polly, or Pretty Polly allowing for a slight bit of humor in a dark theme. There is a gradual softening of Sarah as she begins to see the strength and maturing in Polly.
A rather slow start, the plot picks up speed as it hurdles into an interesting conclusion. In the meantime, however, I noted a few contradictions and slightly awkward descriptions.
I received a complimentary review ARC of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mysteries, Mystery, Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Lake William Press
Publication Date: March 15, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Charlotte Whitney‘s latest book, THE UNVEILING OF POLLY FORREST is a historical mystery set on a Midwestern farm in 1934. It follows her successful novel, THREADS A DEPRESSION-ERA TALE. The author grew up on a Michigan farm and heard her aunts and grandmother tell stories of “hard times,” and was surprised to hear that even farmers went to bed hungry. That served as the impetus for the settings for her most recent novels. She worked at the University of Michigan as the associate director of Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts before leaving to write full-time. Currently, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two Labrador Retrievers. She loves hiking, bicycling, and yoga.
To learn more about the author’s upcoming books and subscribe to her free newsletter go to: http://www.charlottewhitney.com
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