Paperback: 414 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 17, 2015)
A buried secret keeps two sisters apart.
Life went terribly wrong for Addie Bates in San Diego, and she’s been running from those memories ever since. For fifteen years, the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony has provided a safe haven for Addie to hide from the crime she committed. But when the residents pack up to go on exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, Addie returns and must face the thrilling yet terrifying prospect of reuniting with her estranged sister, Wavey.
Addie isn’t the only one interested in a reunion. When her niece, Rumor, discovers she has an aunt, Rumor is determined to bring her family together. But it’s not so easy when the women are forced to confront family secrets, past and present.
Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the lasting consequences of a single impulsive act.
“A moving story of the secrets that both bind families together and tear them apart.” —Megan Chance, award-winning author of Bone River, Inamorata, and The Visitant
“A charming, quirky family saga like no other, Whistling Women is a totally relatable, endlessly surprising, and masterfully written gem of a novel.” —Molly Cochran, author of Mireille
“Romo has written a sparkling period novel. A passionate daughter determined to unravel family secrets kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.” —Consuelo Saah Baehr, author of Three Daughters
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Addie Bates has retreated from her past life of abuse, secrets and a nefarious deed into the routine life and protection of the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony. Within the colony, Addie feels safe and protected from the mistakes of her past until Addie and the other girls from the colony are scheduled to exhibit at the 1935 World’s Fair in San Diego. San Diego is part of the world she left behind, and where the sister, Wavey, that she has broken bonds with still lives. Addie tries to make amends with Wavey, but instead finds her two nieces Rumor and Mary. Rumor is determined to get to know her new found Aunt Addie and help her mother and aunt make amends.
I was fascinated by the setting of this book; I honestly don’t think I have ever read anything set in a nudist colony. I really enjoyed reading about Addie’s daily schedule, the routine and philosophy of the nudist colony, especially how it was perceived by the different age groups. It was also nice to see the degree of freedom that this group of women had, especially in the 1930’s. The World’s Fair was also wonderfully described and I loved getting a chance to imaging the Garden of Eden and some of the other sideshow acts. The point of view switches from chapter to chapter between Addie and Rumor. All of the women’s characters are very developed. Addie’s current life as well as her past and the secret she was keeping kept me interested at every turn of the page. Rumor stole the show at some moments with her vibrancy and tenacity. There were some parts for me where the pacing seemed slow waiting for the big reveal of the secret, but it is worth it in the end.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Kelly A. Romo currently lives in Oregon with her three children where she teaches writing, literature, and social studies. She loves the outdoors; hiking, kayaking, and camping. Kelly grew up in California running around with all her thrill-seeking cousins and siblings; jumping off cliffs into the Colorado River, exploring caves on the beaches of Mexico, riding dirt bikes, water skiing, and snow skiing.
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