Lillian Alexander’s father is dying of cancer. When he rambles on in a morphine-delirium, Lillian can’t ignore the feeling he’s trying to tell her something. At his funeral days later, she encounters ghosts from her past who stir long-suppressed memories from the day her mother died twenty-seven years ago. Why, if her mother’s death was an accident, does Lillian harbor guilt, as though she were somehow to blame?
When Lillian and her twin sister, Layla, learn the Stoney family fortune is gone, Lillian fights to save her ancestral home on Charleston’s prestigious East Battery. Desperate to resolve her money problems and get answers to her questions about the past, she tears her father’s study apart in search of clues. She discovers a thumb drive in a hollowed-out hardback copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls. The thumb drive, marked For Lillian in his handwriting, contains her father’s memoir. Secluded in the family’s cottage on Wadmalaw Island, she immerses herself in her father’s account of his stormy relationship with her mother. What she learns sets her on a journey of self-discovery.
Tangled in Ivy is a tale of tortured souls and southern family dysfunction.
Can I just say that this book was a rollercoaster of emotions? I’ve loved so many of Ashley Farley’s other books and I’m happy to report that this novel did not disappoint. In fact, I would dare to say this is her best work I have read so far.
Lillian is on a soul searching quest after the death of her beloved father. She follows his hints and finds his memoir hidden in a Hemingway book. As she delves into her father’s truth, she discovers things about her parents, her upbringing, and even clues to her dysfunctional relationship with her twin sister, Layla. For Lillian, life has changed in the wake of her father’s death, but through his words, she finds her way to discovering her truth, her path, and her identity.
As a southern gal, I thoroughly enjoy books that are set in the South, because it’s like returning home. I was even stationed in Charleston, S.C., so this novel left me walking the streets once again. The plot is a simplistic, yet intriguing tale of uncovering family secrets. While Lillian’s journey leads to her self discovery, I also found it to be a tragic love story. But not in the way you would expect. It’s the love of a father and his faith in his daughter to accept him despite his flaws.
I will admit that I did figure out Ivy’s “secret” (No spoilers, sorry!) right away. I don’t know if it’s just my distrusting nature or if I’m just really good at piecing things together, but I was not surprised by the revelation after her passing. I did not see the twist that involved Lillian and I was almost on edge when I thought Farley was going to keep the truth from the reader. I’m happy to say I guessed correctly on that one. I actually am sad this is a standalone. But some of the best novels are.
I would highly recommend this to all of you bookworms who enjoy tales of family secrets and generational sagas. This is an amazing novel and I couldn’t put it down!
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.