Sunday, January 19, 2014

Widow's Tears by Susan Wittig Albert

I have followed Susan Wittig Albert for over a decade now, anticipating every new China Bayles adventure.  I had not read this one yet (it had slipped by me in the move) and when it came across the counter at work, I grabbed it up.  I know a SWA book is a quick read, because you can't put it down and she has another book coming out shortly (in April). 

This one didn't disappoint,.  However, it is a bit different from her other China Bayles books.  For one thing, China figures very little in this book.  It is mainly about Ruby.  

Widow's Tears has the past meeting the present in a very disturbing way.  September 8, 1900 was the day of the hurricane which destroyed Galveston and left almost 10,000 people dead (most of the city at the time).  Flash forward to 2013 and Ruby is helping her old friend Claire discover what a ghost in a house Claire inherited wants so that Claire can use the old, strange house as a bed and breakfast.

As past and present intertwine, a disturbing story of that sad day in history unfolds.  In fact, being a mother myself, I found the story a bit unsettling.  In fact, so much so that it wasn't quite as quick a read as I was expecting.  I have been inland for a handful of hurricanes in North Carolina.  I know the crack of pine trees as they fall victim to the wind and rain.  I have had power loss for almost a week and roads cut off for a couple of days due to trees down across the road.  And yet, even in these days we can still experience the devastation similar to Galveston (take New Orleans).  So there was a bit of empathy for Rachel's experience in Galveston.  It takes Ruby's empathy and psyhic ability to finally understand after a century what Rachel really wants.  China's no-nonsense strengths can't help here.

I have also picked my share of widow's tears, growing wild.  The tiny purple/blue flowers are lovely and each chapter starts with a tidbit on the language of flowers.  I regret we have lost the need to 'speak our message' with flowers.  

This is another book which will join the other China Bayles' mysteries on my shelf to read and re-read over and over again. 

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