Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan

Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop


For Jackie Pierce, everything changed the summer of 1979, when she spent three months of infinite freedom at her bohemian uncle’s sprawling estate on the California coast. As musicians, artists, and free spirits gathered at The Sandcastle for the season in pursuit of inspiration and communal living, Jackie and her cousin Willa fell into a fast friendship, testing their limits along the rocky beach and in the wild woods… until the summer abruptly ended in tragedy, and Willa silently slipped away into the night.

Twenty years later, Jackie unexpectedly inherits The Sandcastle and returns to the iconic estate for a short visit to ready it for sale. But she reluctantly extends her stay when she learns that, before her death, her estranged aunt had promised an up-and-coming producer he could record a tribute album to her late uncle at the property’s studio. As her musical guests bring the place to life again with their sun-drenched beach days and late-night bonfires, Jackie begins to notice startling parallels to that summer long ago. And when a piece of the past resurfaces and sparks new questions about Willa’s disappearance, Jackie must discover if the dark secret she’s kept ever since is even the truth at all.

Some authors can write words that just seem to flow. I’m not sure how to define this any better, nor do I understand how it’s accomplished. It isn’t that there aren’t starts and stops in the reading, but rather that there aren’t any in the story itself. All of this sounds a little esoteric, but nonetheless, such is the stuff of Lady Sunshine. I was angry every time I had to do some chore or even eat. I just didn’t want to put it down.

Many times a book that switches from year to year, chapter after chapter, can be confusing. My even trying to explain it is confusing. But somehow Amy Mason Doan managed to keep the change in time clear. Never once did it seem to me that the story jumped around. I hate to bring up the “flow” of her writing, but once again I think it explains the seamlessness between chapters and between decades.

This is a sweet story. One full of sunshine like its name, and full of times so poignant that I could feel them. If you have lived in the 70’s or 90’s, some of the description will put you right back into those times. If you have been a kid (surely you have) you’ll be stuck in a time warp for the duration of this book. Jackie, the main character, spends a certain amount of her young life at a beautiful music compound owned by her uncle and inherits it many years later. Going back recalls many memories, some laughter, some tears, and a mystery full of secrets only certain people knew.

I hope I’ve given the impression that Amy Mason Doan is a true storyteller. It’s most certainly true.

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