The Favorite Daughter: A Novel. Patti Callahan Henry. Penguin Publishing Group. June 2019. pb, 368 pp.; ISBN: 9780399583131.
Lena (Colleen) Donohue proceeded to walk to her wedding and instead accidentally walked in on an act of betrayal that ultimately changed her life forever. She loved her hometown of Watersend, South Carolina but fled to New York on that traumatic day. One can leave to New York and begin a successful life as a journalist but can one forget one’s true “home” and return without having to deal with her immense pain and inability to forgive? Can one learn to trust again and perhaps even learn to love without waiting for another disaster to follow?
When Lena’s brother Shane begs her to come home to help with their Dad, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Of course, she returns but does everything she can to avoid her sister Hallie. That’s not really possible but they realize concern for their father must take top priority.
So they decide to throw a 60th birthday for their father and to create a memory book that spans Virginia, Ireland and South Carolina, so that he can remember and refer to it frequently before his memory declines completely. In the process of doing this, the family discover secrets very close to Lena’s heartache and how their parents coped with their sense of betrayal and forgiveness.
Eventually Hallie will have that conversation she’s always wanted to have before Lena ran away to New York but not until many terse, sniping words pass back and forth between the two formerly very close sisters. Yes, home is more than just a place. It’s a location where all the ups and downs as well as the acts and words that destroy and bind happen, albeit a wee bit contrived. The personalities are spunky and tender in just the right spots. It will trigger the reader to contemplate what one considers to be one’s own precious memories!
The Favorite Daughter is a good read, a story brimming with passion, love, hate, forgiveness and renewal. It’s also a lovely story of a beautiful part of the country which is described in all its lush greenery, marshland and seaside. A very nice summer read!