Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Review: Lies in White Dresses by Sofia Grant

A wedding is just one day. A marriage lasts a lifetime. Although this is by no means true for everyone, it does hold more than a kernel of truth in that marriage is not about the one day event but instead about the life, the promises, and the compromises. Sometimes these daily pieces of marriage break down and marriages end in divorce. In fact, the statistic most often thrown around is that 50% of US marriages end in divorce. And divorce has gotten easier and is far less stigmatized now than it used to be. There was a time when it was almost impossible to divorce. I mean, look at the hoops that Henry VIII went through, and he was a King. But even after divorce stopped requiring the political upheaval of breaking away from the Church or a Parliamentary decree, it was still hard, looked down upon, and generally financially devastating for women. But time has a way of marching forward and society changes and divorce has become much easier and commonplace (see that 50% statistic) along the way. In the 1940s and 50s, while divorce was still a little bit scandalous but definitely becoming more acceptable, Nevada lowered its residency requirement for those seeking a divorce to six weeks, making it the divorce capital of the US and leading many women to head to Reno for the "Reno cure," living at divorce ranches and hotels to establish the required residency so they could obtain an uncontested, quickie divorce. This is the backdrop for Sofia Grant's newest novel, Lies in White Dresses, where three women, two middle aged and one still young, travel to Reno to end their unhappy marriages.

Francie Meeker and Vi Carothers and their families have been dear friends forever so it makes sense that they would travel to Reno together. Francie's husband is a decent sort but her marriage has been unhappy for years. Vi's husband is a serial cheater but this time he actually wants a divorce so he can marry his latest girlfriend. The two women are quite well off and have the approval and support, financial and otherwise, of their soon-to-be-ex-husbands in their quest for their divorces. While on the train to Reno, they meet June Samples and her four year old daughter Patty. It is clear quite early on that June is running from a bad marriage with an abusive husband and that she has only the barest amount of money to last her the required six weeks. There's something about June's vulnerability that speaks to Francie and Vi and they adopt her, insisting that she stay in Vi's suite at the Holiday Ranch instead of the cut-rate hotel she had planned on. After a fancy dinner out together, June goes to sleep while Francie and Vi meet up with Willy, another six-week resident of the ranch, and head to a nearby bar, where they talk and laugh and have a good time until Willy's surprising connection to the older women becomes clear. Heading home to the ranch along the river, Francie and Vi each make a wish, not knowing how hard or impossible it might be for that wish to come true, especially in light of the tragedy that's revealed the following day and changes everything.

Told in chapters alternating between a focus on Francie, June, and Virgie, the 11 or 12 year old, Nancy Drew addicted daughter of the hotel's owner, the novel builds the stories of the three women, Francie, Vi, and June, and the secrets they hold close to themselves, afraid to share with even the people they love, while Virgie observes them all and tries to use her fledgling (and often misguided) detective skills to build her own picture of the truth. Reno is a new start, the first step into a new life while still being marginally in place in their old lives. It is a place of truth and reckoning, of transformation and acceptance. For Vi, having grown up in Reno, it's also a return to her roots. There are moments of drama in the story but it's more a story of relationship, of recovery after disappointment, about starting over, no matter how scary, and about daring to reach for happiness. The characters are engaging and if some of their outcomes are fairly predictable, others are rather surprising. The tone is more light than dark even though the story touches on domestic abuse, infidelity, and suicide. June's presence allows Grant to include the reality of the financial repercussions of divorce for women in ways that the characters of wealthy society matrons Francie and Vi wouldn't. Although there are many issues raised and touched upon in the pages of this story, the friendship and care between the women is the largest theme and it is a warm and loving portrayal. They might be struggling with their decisions, no matter how correct they are, with the future and what it holds, and with the secrets they reveal so slowly, but no matter what they are there for each other in ways that no marriage vows ever captured.

For more information about Sofia Grant and the book, check our her author website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and publisher William Morrow for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. I love, love, love this review and this review alone makes me want to skip the library que and just buy it outright. Thank you so much for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts