Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster (Edelweiss; NetGalley)
paperback release: August 4, 2015
lemoncholy: (noun) 1. The habitual state in which one makes the best of a bad situation. (adjective) 2. Afflicted with, characterized by, or showing lemoncholy.
I’ll just lay it right out there and tell you I loved this novel from the very start. Imagine a bit of Miss Peregrine’s, House at the End of Hope Street, Time and Again, and Time Traveler’s Wife all stirred up in a pot and Scott Wilbank‘s first novel is just that tasty. Lemoncholy Life begins in the middle, but I’m guessing with time travel that’s just a formality. A letter. A murder. Enough said.
Things really get rolling when one fine day in 1895 Elsbeth Grundy looks out her door to see a huge (and rather elegant) house sitting in the wheat fields of her back forty. Indignant at the gall of anyone who would build a house on her property without permission (and, seemingly, overnight, mind you!) Elsbeth writes her “neighbor” a letter and pops it in the brass mailbox by the picket fence.
Annie Aster steps through her back door (one she had recently purchased at an antique store and just had installed, by the way) and straight onto a path she’d never seen before. Following it through a garden exploding with roses of every kind, she came to a picket fence—and saw fields of wheat beyond, and in the distance, a small gray cabin. Curious, Annie opens the mailbox to find Elsbeth’s letter. The year is 1995.
And of course the two women begin corresponding across those 100 years. And of course Annie’s new red door is a time conduit. And of course their lives become entwined in ways they didn’t think possible when Annie reads an old newspaper account of a murder—and decides she and Elsbeth just might be able to prevent it.
But in many ways this isn’t a story about Annie and Elsbeth and their time traveling capers. This is a novel rich with complex characters who are trying to find a place in this often cold and heartless world. Like Christian, Annie’s best friend. A car accident left him with a brain injury. He stutters; he’s sometimes lonely. And Edmond. Another loner, who would like to get to know Christian better … but he’s haunted by a secret. And finally, Cap’n—a street urchin who leads a gang of pickpockets and shills in Elsbeth’s world but risks almost everything to help one of the few people who have ever treated her with kindness.
The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster had more plot twists and turns than I could keep track of, at times. If I have any criticism it would be that Wilbanks has enough material here for two books, easily—and instead of the rapid fire connections across time that came at the end of the novel, I’d have loved a sequel with a little more exposition of those back stories.
But no matter. For all you time-traveling, sleuth-loving readers, Lemoncholy Life is not to be missed. And as a special treat, dear reader, author Scott Wilbanks will guest post right here on August 24th. This Is My Symphony’s first time ever participating in a blog tour—and I couldn’t be more excited it’s for this novel!