Newly divorced Rhonda, haunted by her sister Evelyn’s ghost, travels to an old palazzo in Rome to confront Marco, the man who stole her sister’s heart—only to find out he’s vanished in the wake of Evelyn’s death. Meanwhile, Rhonda’s nineteen-year-old daughter Olivia, adopted by Rhonda at birth, travels to the mysterious and lush waters of northern Vietnam, where she’s been summoned by the missing Marco—a man she only knows from her parents’ whispers, a man she has never met or seen. Soon, truths are exposed and lives unraveled, and the real journey begins. Four lives in all, spanning three continents, are now bound together in an unfathomable way—and they tell a powerful story about love in all its incarnations, filial and amorous, healing and destructive.
I received this book, The Absence of Evelyn by Jackie Townsend, from BookSparks as the third book in their spring book tour, “It’s Raining Books”. Unfortunately for me, somehow this book and another one fell to the bottom of a pile of books I had already read and reviewed, and I never noticed it until I was cleaning the book cabinet to make room for more! While I missed the BookSparks’ tour, I still wanted to share the books with readers so they’d know they could run out and pick it up for them.
The Absence of Evelyn is the story of a mother, daughter, sister and lover and their four lives all connected by one woman’s death. As the title suggests, Evelyn dies and all the people in her world deal with how her loss touches each of them.
Rhonda Knight’s divorce is finalized just as she is turning 47. She seems happy but the truth is that she’s all alone and mourning the loss of her estranged sister – Evelyn – who died two years earlier. Her children are all grown up and forging their own lives in the world, including her adopted 19-year old daughter, Olivia. Rhonda has a mountainside mansion in the desert that she just wanders around in while haunted by her sister’s memories.
While Rhonda heads to Italy to meet Marco Rossellini face to face only to find that he has vanished. Marco was Evelyn’s former lover who stole her sister’s heart, and he has some of her sister’s belongings. At the same time, Rhonda’s daughter, Olivia secretly heads to Hanoi so she can collect items left to her by her Aunt Evelyn. Rhonda arrives in Italy and meets Marco’s daughter, Carlotta and her mother, both of whom share their stories about Marco. In Hanoi, however, Olivia is spending time with Marco trying to learn answers to some of the questions she has about her past.
The Absence of Evelyn is a well-paced story and the characters are interesting. My only complaint was the use of alternating perspectives and the way it seemed so random. Once the story was all laid out and I was at the end of the story, I realized the alternating perspectives worked out just fine and it was a great story about a broken family trying to heal.
Jackie received her MBA from U.C. Berkeley and spent eight years on the fast track with a financial services consulting company before burning out. After coming to terms with what is important in life (being married to an Italian didn’t hurt!), she began writing and hasn’t stopped since.
A native of Southern California, she spends a lot of her time in places not her own. As the youngest of four children, she carries with her a strong sense of family to these places, often foreign, and writes about belonging (or not belonging), loss, and love. She lives in New York with her husband. The Absence of Evelyn is her third book.
Follow her blog at jackietownsend.com.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSparks as part of the “It’s Raining Books” Tour in exchange for this post. I was not required to post a positive review, but I chose to do so because I enjoyed the book! Thanks so much!