THE STORIES WE TELL: A NOVEL – Patti Callahan Henry
St. Martin's Griffin
Savannah, Georgia - Present Day
Eve Morrison appears to have the perfect life. Married to the dashingly handsome Cooper, whose family is a veritable Southern bastion of respectability in Savannah, Eve fell in love with Cooper at the tender age of nineteen and found herself marrying not only Cooper but the entire Morrison family. This was the family of her dreams. Now, two decades later, she and Cooper have been named Savannah's “power” couple. They are beautiful, wealthy and well known for both their community work and individual careers. Cooper has left the family business and made a name for himself in the digital magazine business, while Eve owns a very successful letterpress studio on the Morrison property.
Lately, though, Eve feels somewhat dissatisfied and unsettled. Cooper is always away on business, and their daughter Gwen, just seventeen, is dating a boy that Eve does not approve of. The tension is palpable at the family homestead, even more so with Eve's sister in the house. Willa, Eve's younger sister, has moved back to Savannah and taken up residence with Eve and her family while she looks for a job. A troubled youth for Willa has resulted in a wounded woman, and Eve knows that her presence has added pressure to the family dynamics. Cooper resents Willa's presence and Eve's business because they take her away from him. But for Eve, the letter press company she shares with her two friends is almost a lifeline. It is the place where she feels comfortable, creative and alive.
When the police arrive one evening to let Eve know that her husband and sister were in a car accident and are being treated at the hospital, she doesn't know what to think. Willa has a mild traumatic brain injury and can't remember what happened or why she was with Cooper. Cooper has cuts and bruises and a severe cut on his face, which is both painful and ugly. Cooper is angry and claims the injury occurred because Willa was drunk, and when Cooper insisted on driving her home, she grabbed the wheel, causing the accident. But something is not right. The stories and the evidence are not adding up, and now Eve has to figure out where the truth starts and where the lies end. And more important, the why of the truths and the lies. It is a story that will leave no one unscathed, most especially Eve.
THE STORIES WE TELL is riveting and beautiful. It is spare in words but detailed and nuanced and beautiful in its descriptions. The reader gets a real feel for the ambience and tone of Savannah and its culture. I have no idea if that is what Savannah is really like, but it doesn't matter. The letterpress business and products Eve creates are so beautifully described that after I finished this book, I began researching the art of letterpress. Who knew? Clearly Patti Callahan Henry felt inspired – I could feel the emotion seeping through the pages. Character development was excellent as in all her books, and I particularly enjoyed the secondary characters--they were so well developed in such a short period of time. The plot is interesting; it moves fast but takes its time where it needs to and the slight suspense of the accident and the truths or lies Eve is learning keep the story interesting and impossible to put down.
A very finely crafted book, I highly recommend THE STORIES WE TELL to all readers. If you haven't read Patti Callahan Henry's books before, you are in for a treat.