ONLY EVER HER
Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?
Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.
MARYBETH MAYHEW WHALEN
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is the author of When We Were Worthy, The Things We Wish Were True and five previous novels. She regularly speaks to women’s groups around the US and is one of the co-founders of the popular women’s fiction site, She Reads, which has become rather a victim of its own success, overtaken the lives of its founders and has now decided to reinvent itself as a predominantly Instagram site.
Marybeth and her husband Curt have been married for 26 years and are the parents of six children. The family lives in North Carolina. Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble some words.
She is always at work on her next novel and although her personal preferred social media platform these days is also Instagram.
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“Though she has made it as far as parking outside the lawyer’s office, she finds herself unable to go in. She has her fingers around the door handle, ready to tug it open at any moment. The car is new, so the door won’t creak loudly when she opens it like her old car did. (Ah, the Jetta, may she rest in peace.) This SUV, a pristine, mature vehicle choice, will not give her any problems. Like her fiancé, Scott, who selected and bought her the Honda CR-V as an early wedding gift, this car is new and reliable and suitable for starting her new life in a few weeks as Mrs. Annie Hanson”
“But this is what she knows – tragedy brings out the best and worst in people. The state of suspended reality that comes with a time of tragedy can make people believe that nothing they do right now counts. There is a freedom that comes with that feeling, a pass to do anything you want, damn the consequences.”
“The trick to keeping a secret is you just have to do it every day, day after day.”
“One thing she knows about lies – once they start to stack up, they can topple over, crushing you under the weight of them.”
“The enemy of great writing is distraction.”
It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared. Or was it?
Only Ever Her, is the first book I have read by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. However from previous experiences of reading small town mysteries by various different authors, I half suspected that the formula for the book’s success, was going to be pretty predictable.
I wasn’t to be disappointed … This was definitely a very character driven story, with a slow burning plot, which never really came to the boil with any high impact drama!
Nonetheless, it was expertly crafted and beautifully written!
In any small town you will find one or two characters who stand out from the crowd, however the majority of the main cast of characters, were very ‘beige’, apathetic and lifeless individuals, not particularly likeable, who appeared to simply exist from day to day; creatures of habit, without any real sense of purpose or urgency, even in a time of crisis. It seemed that every single one of them had secrets to hide, relationships to disguise or guilt to assuage.
It seemed as though they were all simply drifting through life, sublimely unaware of their failings, or if they were, definitely not in a hurry to do anything about them. They certainly didn’t seem to worry too much about the consequences of their actions, or the impact they had on their fellow townsfolk.
The plot itself could have had real potential to be a little more dramatic than it was, however what had once held promise, fizzled out into something of a non-event if the dialogue and narrative were to be believed, albeit a very sad and tragic affair. The storyline instead, became dominated by events of the past, which did take a rather surprising turn towards the end of the book, especially when it transpired that Annie was already in possession of certain information just before her disappearance, leaving me to wonder exactly how much this had influenced the state of her mind and her logical decision making capabilities.
The burning question of the moment – “what happened to the bride-to-be?”, whilst it was answered per se; was I felt, dealt with very superficially and left me facing several random explanations of my own choosing, on which to base my conclusions, without any final closure by the author:
Was Annie jealous of her best friend’s relationship with her soon-to-be husband?
Was Annie ashamed of her own feelings for someone other than her husband to-be?
Had Annie discovered enough about childhood events which made her feel remorse and guilt for the way she had treated another person and the terrible consequences those actions had heaped upon their life?
Or was Annie Taft’s death simply nothing more than a tragic accident?
I left this small town with a sense of relief that I wasn’t being forced to live there and that I would never hopefully need to return, although I can be fairly certain that if I were to revisit in the future, nothing much will have changed.
By now you might well be asking yourself exactly why I rated this book quite so highly. Well, the storyline met most of my pre-reading expectations of a small town mystery and I certainly enjoyed Marybeth’s writing style and characterizations.
This book was a complimentary download, provided by Little Bird Publicity and facilitated by NetGalley. However, any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article relating to the book.
From preference, I do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall reading experience is so much a matter of personal taste, which will vary from reader to reader. However some review sites do require a rating value, so when posted to such a site, Only Ever Her will attract a 4 out of 5 star rating.