I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch
Published by Lake Union Publishing on July 1, 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Women's Fiction, Friendship
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Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.
But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.
Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.
In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch is a good lesson in appearance isn’t everything. Five friends return to their college home twenty years after graduating at the wishes of their late friend Bea. Told over a 4th of July weekend, the story focuses on the individuals and how each of their needs to be perceived as successful has hardened them. From the Martha Stewart wannabe and her Mr. Mom husband, to the boy-child plastic surgeon, the aging rock star with more than one secret and the suburban mother who judges her happiness on social media likes, each of them is play acting the perfect life.
While I very much enjoyed Scotch’s writing, I could not connect with any of the characters. I did feel for them, but each of their issues was caused by themselves so I had a hard time being sympathetic. I did like the plot and the pacing was perfect, as the story was set over just a few days, with brief glimpses into the past. This was an emotional read and I was impressed by how the author was able to make each of the characters true individuals. I also loved the ending as it was not a perfect shiny wrap-up and I always enjoy the more nebulous endings.
In Twenty Years is a good beach read, but not a compelling tale. Allison Winn Scotch crafted a nuanced look into how appearances and the constant struggle for validation can really harm someone. This was a fast read that I enjoyed but didn’t fall in love with.
Favorite lines – You don’t know. You don’t know how time works. How it can sneak up so quickly, you don’t even realize what it’s stolen from you.
Biggest cliché – As long as everything looks fine from the outside, everything will be okay.
Have you read In Twenty Years, or added it to your TBR?
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
Published by Doubleday on June 28, 2016
Genres: Psychological, Women's Fiction
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A spellbinding psychological debut novel, Swan Huntley’s We Could Be Beautiful is the story of a wealthy woman who has everything—and yet can trust no one.
Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she’ll never have a family of her own. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine’s parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone…” Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.
We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley focuses on the fear of wealth. The fear of losing it and the fear of never having enough. Catherine West is a woman who is used to money, but not to love. She wears a shield of privilege around her and despairs of ever finding a man who will see her and not just what she has. When she meets William at an art opening, it is attraction at first sight. A smart man, who truly sees who she is, they begin a whirlwind courtship. When old family secrets begin to surface, Catherine wonders if the choices she has made are right.
Touted as a psychological novel, this read fell flat to me in that arena. I was never tense and wondering what was going to happen. As a literary fiction read, it was above average and had some great phrasing and world building, but to me, it was not a gripping edge of my seat read. I also never really connected with Catherine. As a main character she was very standoffish and I never really got her. The writing of Huntley was fantastic and I loved the way she was able to draw me into a location and situation. The plot was interesting, but I have come to realize that I am tired of reading about privileged New Yorker’s. I think it is so outside my realm of understanding that I can’t really enjoy the stories when a person makes very little at “only” $300,000 a year.
We Could Be Beautiful did have some fantastic moments and some very fine writing. Swan Huntley can really paint a picture and show a wide array of emotions. I think I was just expecting more twisty and deep than the surface read.
Favorite lines – There is something about this guy, there is some kind of electricity between us. It was big, enormous, unavoidable. From the very beginning it felt like a current pulling me blissfully toward a whirlpool. Before you drown, the spinning just feels like a dance.
Biggest cliché – As long as I have money, everything will be fine.
Have you read We Could Be Beautiful, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 Diverse Books Reading Challenge
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge