Lily’s House by Cassandra Parkin

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Her expression is so sweet and conspiratorial that I almost miss the spite. I’m always surprised by Lily’s sharp edges . She enjoys being cruel about the neighbors who clearly find her charming, and look forward to seeing her. 

This is the Lily I need to remember. Not the woman who let me bring other people’s cats home and gave me bacon rind for the seagulls, but the Lily who dropped sharp truth from her lips, cutting everyone else to pieces. 

Jen brings her daughter Marianne along to her deceased grandmother’s house despite her misgivings. It’s opening old wounds, but what is more enchanted, Lily herself with her mysterious ways, the house that still feels like home whether Jen admits it or not, or her memories. Memory is funny, it’s a curse and a blessing, it’s a spell, it’s a mist and sometimes loss opens the eyes of those who refused to see. Who the hell is the old James Moon butting his nose in and judging her for ‘abandoning her grandmother Lily? What does he know anyone? Who was her, a lover? The old man holds as many secrets as Lily herself.

Jen’s girlhood is over, as she says “My girlhood’s over. My daughter’s tall. I’m really here. This is now.”  It’s over, but only in confronting it, in looking back is she going to understand her place now. It will require peeling back her memory, and sorting through Lily’s things to figure out the things Lily kept hidden and why. Could she have misunderstood everything to the point of disaster. What happened to drive her away from her once beloved Lily, her safe haven? Why does Danielle feel Lily can come between Jen and him now that she is gone? Why did Lily hate him so much? Is she really a witch, like she claims? Does Jen have the gift of second sight or is it merely coincidences that occur?

Daniel floats on the periphery of the story, needy, a bit controlling, is he an anchor or a dead weight? Jen isn’t the clever one in the novel, in fact her daughter is a darling character that becomes a sort of guiding light, forcing her mother into encounters with Moon, and truths she has long denied. Children aren’t oblivious, they too live in the same chaos the grown adults too. At times Innocent bystanders, at others participants and Marianne isn’t going to be quiet, nor blind as her mother. More than anyone else in the story, Marianne loves her mother with all her might. If only Jen could love herself.

This novel is a bit magical realism (a dusting), a mother/daughter excavation as Jen explores the depths of her past (because though Lily wasn’t Jen’s mother, she may as well have been) and an exposure on the things we allow other people to do to us because we can’t allow the one who loved us best to be right in knowing what we truly needed. We build our own crumbling houses, don’t we? There is heartbreak, loss and confusion but there is hope and beauty too. Lovely story and a pretty cover too.

Publication Date: October 15, 2016

Legend Press

 

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