Books Magazine

The Book of Lost Friends by @LisaWingate

By Pamelascott
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new novel inspired by little-known historical events: a dramatic story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who rediscovers their story and its vital connection to her own students' lives.

In her distinctive voice, Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual "Lost Friends" advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold off.

Louisiana, 1875 In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.

Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to cancelling her hefty student debt-until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Beny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.


[A single ladybug lands feather light on the teacher's finger, clings there, a living gemstone]


(@QuercusBooks, 7 April 2020, 464 pages, paperback, #ARC from @AmazonUK #AmazonVine)



I'd never heard of the author before I read this. Clearly I've been hibernating or living under a rock as she's written more than thirty books. I have a lot of catching up to do then. I am a sucker for dual narratives or books that cover more than one timeline. I've lost count of the number I've read. I'm not sure what appeals but something does. I enjoyed every word of this book; well written, engaging and full of memorable characters. The book is set in the Deep South, a location I don't really visit in fiction. Wingate brings it so vivid, dazzling life. I liked the way the book was structured, with chapters set in the present then moving back into the past to reveal real-life stories from 'Lost Friends' adverts. I like the way Wingate gradually reveals the link between all the stories and characters. Well worth a read!

Book Lost Friends @LisaWingate

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