On the weekend of her wedding, Clare Hobbes is having second thoughts. Her fiancé, Zach, seems like a great catch. He’s handsome, a law school star from a wealthy family. She thinks she loves him, but red flags keep popping up. He’s really, really into Clare. If she reads a book, he wants to read it, too. If he’s invited to a friend’s house and Clare decides not to go, he stays home, too. He seems determined to dominate every part of her life, leaving her breathless, and not in a good way. “Sometimes I think he won’t be satisfied until he climbs into my head and lives there,” she tells her mother. He also keeps reminding her that he will never be happy if she doesn’t agree to marry him. Rather than love, Clare begins to feel obligated to stay with Zach, an attitude she knows will certainly doom the marriage.
Marisa de los Santos
While Clare’s mother, Viviana, and her surrogate mother, Cornelia, try to be supportive, Clare manages to find courage from an unexpected source, an elderly woman she has never met before. Edith Herron, staying at the same hotel where Clare’s wedding is scheduled to take place, shares a bench with the young woman and slowly draws her out. Clare tells Edith things she hasn’t shared with her mother, like times that Zach has seemed out of control and she feared he would hurt her. “No one should live with someone who scares her,” Edith tells Clare. That afternoon, Clare calls off the wedding.
Three weeks later, Clare learns that Edith has died and left her a house called Blue Sky House. “An almost total stranger talked you out of your engagement to the wrong man and then gave you a safe place to go,” her mother says. “Unbelievable.” Clare needs such a space since Zach refuses to believe their relationship is over and keeps calling and texting, some of his exchanges threatening.
In between Clare’s story, we learn more about Edith. If she was able to talk with Clare about true love, it was because she had such an experience. Edith’s husband, Joseph, was her soulmate, someone who loved her and who met her needs without being overbearing or possessive. Joseph’s only failing was dying too soon, leaving his widow behind to mourn his absence. Yet Edith was a formidable woman and she soon found her calling, a mission that would touch the lives of many other women when they most needed that help. Let’s just say that Edith would have fit in very well with today’s #metoo movement, one reason she was able to so clearly see what Clare’s future would be if she stayed with Zach.
Clare moves into Blue Sky House and also renews her friendship with Dev, someone from her childhood that she once thought she would marry. Before too long, the two are delving into Edith’s past, trying to understand who this woman really was and how she came into Clare’s life at exactly the right time.
Marisa de los Santos writes beautifully, her characters never wooden, their conversations never stilted. Edith’s story unfolds during the 1950s; Clare’s in present time, yet in each case the descriptions are period perfect and evocative. The mysteries surrounding Edith’s life unfold slowly and are poignant, yet satisfying.
Marisa de los Santos’s photo: credit to Tisa Della-Volpte
I’ll Be Your Blue Sky
Marisa de los Santos