I was excited to read this new book by a new author set in the San Juan Islands off the Washington Coast. Though I have family living in Washington State, I’ve never visited this area.
The first part—probably about the first quarter—of the book was hard for me to get through. Authors are told over and over again to “show, not tell” but that can be taken to an extreme. In Ascension of Larks, Rachel Linden spends so much time describing everything in the first 25% of the book, it bogged the story down for me a bit.
Yes, I get that Maggie is an artist and her attention to detail is what makes her an excellent photographer and it’s part of her personality to notice these things. And others may enjoy that much detail but it slowed me down a bit.
With that said, it did get better. As Maggie settles into her new reality, the story turns from details about her surroundings to the emotional aspect of what she’s experiencing. Personally, drawing me into a character’s emotions is what makes a story great.
This book is not an easy book to read. It deals with loss—loss of a family member and friend, loss of dreams, and loss of hope. Linden carries readers through Maggie’s grief process with delicacy while immersing them in the pain and heartache that comes along with it.
A good read overall, but the description of the book (book cover and about the book) are a little off. Everything listed happens but not like the description makes them sound. Both the photography competition and the mysterious man are a much smaller part of the story than I was expecting. And I can’t help but think that if we had fewer details at the beginning of the book, we may have ended with Maggie’s HEA instead of her HFN (happy for now).
I’m not sure if this is a standalone book or if we’ll get to visit Maggie again in the future, but I hope so.
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
When globetrotting photographer Magdalena Henry loses the only man she’s ever loved, she risks her stellar career to care for his widow and young children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.
Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Maggie adores her life of travel and adventure. But she has a secret. She can’t let go of her first and only love, renowned architect Marco Firelli, now married to her best friend Lena.
When Marco drowns in a kayaking accident, Maggie rushes to the Firelli family’s summer home on San Juan Island. Once there she discovers that Marco was hiding something that could destroy his family. As fragile, perfectionistic Lena slowly falls apart, Maggie tries to provide stability for Marco and Lena’s three young children.
When Maggie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in the world’s most prestigious photography competition, she thinks she’s found the answer to their problems. Then Lena makes a choice with unexpected and devastating consequences, forcing Maggie to grapple with an agonizing decision. Does she sacrifice the golden opportunity of her career or abandon the Firellis just when they need her the most?
Gradually the island begins to work its magic. A century-old ritual to beckon loved ones home offers hope in the midst of sorrow. And a guilt-ridden yet compelling stranger hiding on the island may offer Maggie a second chance at love, but only if she can relinquish the past and move forward to find joy in unexpected places.