By: Barbara Davis
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: October 1, 2021
Reviewed by: Dianne Woodman
Review Date: March 16, 2022
The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis focuses on Soline Roussel and Aurora “Rory” Grant, whose lives unexpectedly collide in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1985. Soline’s story of her experiences in the early 1940s is woven into the part of the story that takes place in 1985. The prologue, set in September of 1976, is an excellent introductory scene. The epilogue takes place in May of 1986 and is a perfect ending to the story.
In March of 1943, Soline volunteered at a hospital in Paris, France, where she met and fell in love with Anson, an American Field Service ambulance driver. Both Anson and Soline were part of an escape network. When it became too dangerous for Soline, Anson arranged for her escape to his family’s residence in Newport, Massachusetts. Upon notification that Anson was most likely dead, Anson’s father cut off all ties with Soline, even though she was pregnant with Anson’s baby. After the trauma of losing her baby shortly after birth, destitute Soline found a job as a dressmaker in the city of Boston. She was highly successful until a catastrophic fire at the shop in the early '80s upended her life.
In May of 1985, Rory stumbles upon the gutted dress shop owned by Soline and leases the building. Rory’s fiancé, Hux, is working overseas for Doctors Without Borders when he is abducted. There has been no news for months, and Rory is struggling to move forward in her life. The prickly relationship between Rory and Camilla, her mother, makes for tense conversations. As Rory and Soline develop a friendship and spend time together, the tension escalates between Rory and Camilla. While overseeing the conversion of Soline’s shop into an art gallery, Rory does not lose sight of wanting to improve her relationship with Camilla and worries over whether she will ever see Hux again.
The story is told from the perspectives of Soline and Rory. Soline tells her story in the present tense, and Rory tells her story in the past tense. The chapters are labeled with either Soline or Rory, the date, and the location. At the beginning of the prologue and chapters devoted to Soline, the author includes a quote that ties in beautifully with the subject matter. Davis provides the translation for French words and phrases used in the story. The author created a great mix of believable characters, whether they are prone to positive or negative behaviors. The use of sensory language makes readers feel as if they have traveled into the same place as the characters and are experiencing everything along with them. Davis captures readers’ attention at the beginning and compels them to keep reading.
Davis incorporates timeless themes into The Keeper of Happy Endings. The subject matter will resonate with readers who have experienced heartache, deception, adversity, the navigation of complicated family relationships, and the trials of friendship and love. Part of the story focuses on the power of magical charms stitched into wedding dresses. The author includes discussion questions specific to the book enabling readers to expand their views and share their thoughts and feelings about the story.
Quill says: A soul-stirring story of loss, grief, stressful experiences, complicated matters of the heart, and the indomitable human spirit.
To learn more about The Keeper of Happy Endings, please visit the author's website at: barbaradavis-author.com/