You’ll Never Know, Dear: A Novel of Suspense by Hallie Ephron (William Morrow, $26.99, 304 pages)
This is the year that two of my favorite authors have published books about sisters whose roots are in the South. Joshilyn Jackson’s The Almost Sisters is an excellent novel that explores the deep-seated social rules that have persisted through generations. You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron (Night Night, Sleep Tight) explores the haunting, mysterious disappearance of a little girl and the impact of that tragedy on her mother, older sister and law enforcement.
Seven-year-old Lissie was entrusted to look out for her four-year-old sister Janey. Granted, the disappearance took place forty years ago in the front yard of a home in a sleepy, small town in South Carolina. Perhaps even today a mom in a similar setting might do the same, maybe. That same house is still occupied by the aging mom, Miss Sorrel. Lissie (now Lis) is the divorced mother of Vanessa, a post-graduate student. Lis cares for her mother and broods over the terrible time she was distracted by her imagination and wandered off into the woods near the house. Her failed marriage and subsequent lack of support prompted Lis to return to South Carolina years ago.
Each year since Janey’s disappearance, a classified ad placed in the newspaper by Miss Sorrel marks the date. A reward is offered for the return of Janey’s porcelain doll that vanished along with the little girl. The suspense builds after a woman with a Harley-Davidson tattoo answers the ad. Clearly, she is not the sort of person who possesses a hand-painted china doll.
Miss Sorrel and her next-door neighbor, Evelyn Dumont have a decades-long friendship centered around restoring antique dolls, including the personalized china dolls Miss Sorrel created in years past. Each doll’s hair and features were fashioned to resemble the lucky girl whose parents commissioned Miss Sorrel to create the one-of-a-kind treasure.
Hallie Ephron provides readers with an in-depth look at the art of doll making. The marvelous details include references to Madame Alexander dolls. This reviewer has a modest collection of these lovely dolls that began with a much-loved eighth birthday present. The book’s targeted audience is first and foremost ladies of middle age and older who have a fondness for the dolls of their youth.
Suspense and mystery novel lovers will appreciate the twisting story line that includes more than a few family secrets. Ms. Ephron has written another spellbinding tale that does more than rest on the laurels of her past fine works.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book was released on June 6, 2017.
Click here to read a review of The Almost Sisters: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson: