by Srivalli Rekha
The Bluebell Girls by Barbara Josselsohn
Lake Summers Book 2 (Standalone)
Published on 25th Sep 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
The book’s cover attracted me, and I liked the blurb enough to request an ARC copy on NetGalley. The book starts out a bit slow, apprehensive, and sad, just like Jenna, our heroine. She’s heading back to Lake Summers (it is a wonderful place with good-hearted people and lovely backdrop) to stay with her mother, Sweet, and her daughter, Sophie, a pre-teen.
She’s in the middle of a messy divorce and is being pressured by her elder sister, Chloe, to reconsider her decision to relocate to Lake Summers. This made me wary. I wondered if the pattern would continue for a major portion of the book. Soon, I was assured that it wouldn’t happen. The characters, especially the leading ladies, had more depth and strength to them that gets revealed as the story progresses.
Love, Romance, and Second Chances
We have Troy or TJ, who is back in the town as a successful vet. Troy and Jenna share a history that no one seems to know about. He is dealing with his demons and has this predictable hot and cold reaction to Jenna. But he is polite and caring.
This isn’t entirely a romance. Love is the predominant emotion, and it is extended to all relationships. Second chances are presented for more than one character, and that’s what makes the book complete. The book belongs to Sweet and Sophie as much as it belongs to Jenna.
Sweet ends up hurting her hip due to a fall, which leads Jenna straight to the hospital, soon after the story begins. The book is from Jenna’s POV and goes back and forth, revealing details from different stages of her past. We see her ex-husband, her marriage, her childhood, her relationship with Troy, and her true happy self in bits and pieces.
The author has taken care to make sure there is no information dump. The details come out as and when we see Jenna’s thought process changing and progressing. She doesn’t ramble or go on and on about the same thing. She is suffering from low self-esteem but also starts to gain back her former confidence. Her conversation with a lovely lady, followed by one with Chloe, set the trend. We also see Chloe’s side, her concern, her weary patience, and her love for her mother and sister.
Sophie finds a new cause to lift her spirits, keep her occupied, and strengthen her bond with her grandmother. She was a delight to read as the story progressed. She also plays a crucial role in pushing Jenna to consider something we brushed aside as a silly tale.
Sweet is an endearing character, and it’s easy to see glimpses of her in Sophie and Jenna. The characters felt real a lot of time throughout the book. Their bonding was tangible and beautiful to read. More so because the writing is mellow and soft.
This isn’t the kind of book one rushes through. It takes its own sweet time to move. But there is steady progress with new information being presented quite regularly. I also liked how there were no new characters that pop up out of nowhere. Like a true small-town novel, each character blends into the story without effort.
Role of the Title
Sweet loves bluebells and has them in her garden. She, along with Chloe and Jenna, was famous in Lake Summers as the Bluebell Girls. The folk adores them.
But why does Sweet like bluebells so much? Also, why does she love being called Sweet when her name is Frances? Does it have anything to do with the story she tells Sophie? Does it have anything to do with the things in the basement (which resulted in her fall)?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. The connection is endearing and heartwarming. It was easy to connect the dots and guess a few things, but that doesn’t affect the story. It still made me smile.
There are no villains in the story. We don’t see characters who are mean for the sake of it.
There are no misplaced twists or dramas. There is one predictable scene towards the end, but that’s fine. It doesn’t drag.
The character arcs are well developed, except for Troy.
The ending is hopeful, positive, and makes us happy to have read a lovely book.
Overall, The Bluebell Girls is a warm women’s fiction with good characters and equally good writing
About the Author: Srivalli Rekha is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer. She got a degree in MBA and MA English Literature and chose to become a writer and a poet instead of a corporate professional.