Monday, September 25, 2017

Review of A Page From the Past by Kelli Keith

Book Review

Kelli Keith

Book Title:
A Page From The Past

Book Author:
Cindy Davis

Date of Publication:
December 2008

Number of Pages:

Main Characters:
Lindsay and Glenn Reade are the owners of a successful bookshop in a small New England town. Married for 31 years, they enjoy the mundane life associated with empty-nesters. Their ever-present red Dachshund, Heather, is a source of companionship and comfort. Surrounded by quirky townspeople, they are thrust into a mystery.

Other Important Characters:
Yolanda “Bobo” (nay) Reade- Glenn’s sister, four time divorcee, and employee of the bookshop.
Les “Brownie” Brown- Local law enforcement officer with an eye on a position as a state cop.
Faith MacDonald- The new girl in town.

Paris, Massachusetts in the early 2000’s.

Over the course of four weeks, Lindsay and Glenn’s lives are turned completely upside down. What began as a typical Monday, traveling their pick-up route, the two booksellers are thrust into the epicenter of a 40-year old murder-mystery. One brush with death after another turns everyone into a suspect, assuring their lives will never be the same.

Key Points/Conflict:
The story is developed around the discovery of a 40-year old diary, written by a teenager named Aura Lee. Her diary outlines her life, family, and her rape by a boy name Jimmy. Jimmy is found dead, days later and Aura Lee is convinced she is responsible. The entries end days after Aura Lee has an abortion, leaving us to wonder what her fate may have been.

Flash forward 40 years: Lindsay and Glenn Reade travel the same circuit to collect used books every Monday for their bookstore in Paris, Massachusetts. Their lives are a series of routines, honed over 31-years of marriage. We meet them moments after they are run off the road in what seemed to be an accident at the hands of careless teenagers. In these first few pages, we are given a glimpse into the love that Lindsay and Glenn share for each other. Each character is strong, intelligent, and capable of standing on their own but, possess the wisdom to know they are better together.

Quickly, we are introduced to the sub-characters which help shape the story: Les “Brownie” Brown, is a local law enforcement officer who arrives on the scene of the accident. He is depicted as a young, loveable character that loves his job and the people of his town; “Bobo” (aka, Yolanda,) is Glenn’s sister, a four-time-divorcee the customers actively avoid. The relationship between Lindsay and Bobo is filled with tension that boils just beneath the surface; a powder keg waiting to explode; Then there is Faith, a new girl in town, she hails from New Hampshire seeking a job and a new life. Her charisma, love of books, and overflowing personality are irresistible to the Reades.

As Lindsay sorts through the carnage of the accident, she discovers a little blue diary among the books they gathered that morning. Being a lover of lost diaries, she reads the words Aura Lee wrote some 40-years before. She is heartbroken by the words and feels compelled to find the author. From that moment, their lives would never be the same. Lindsay and Glenn are run through a gauntlet of death, near misses, and broken trust. Discovering the truth may cost them everything they hold dear.


The realistic nature of the main characters made the story feel plausible and I found myself wanting more. I could not wait to discover the identity of the diary author! My main issue is the timeline of the book, it felt unrealistic, forced in some areas, and completely adjusted in others.

The main characters were in an accident after making their “Monday pick-ups” but have their van, hired a new employee, sorted the wreckage of books, and have appointments to interview people about their find—all by midday or early afternoon. This is just the beginning of the continuity problems. The scene where Lindsay is in the hospital (I’m assuming a day or two after the first accident,) the timeline becomes very muddy. She says “the nurse never answered me” and Glenn replies, “That was yesterday.” Later, Glenn says Lindsay was asleep for a day and a half—after she awoke asking about the nurse’s answer. The way it is written it seems like she was in and out for nearly a week but, it comes out, it was only two days. A few pages later, we are led to believe it has been seven days. I quit trying to figure it out and kept on reading.

In chapter 22, the continuity interferes with the reader’s ability to keep the story straight. We are introduced to “Daniel”, a special needs child who loves to play with Heather. (I was taken aback that the author used the word “retarded” as a descriptor.) In the final paragraph of this chapter, the name of the child suddenly changes to “Tommy”. Throughout the next chapter (23), the author continues the use of the incorrect name and in chapter 24, reverts back to “Daniel”. (I had to read those three chapters several times to make sure I didn’t miss something!)

In Chapter 30, Brownie brings background information on “Jimmy”. He says that the boy was a criminal know for “Breaking & Entering”. In the beginning of the next chapter, Glenn says, “I wonder if she knows the private verdict was that Jimmy was probably killed during a drug deal gone bad”. Again, I went back and re-read the previous two chapters to check if I missed something; I didn’t. This information was introduced out of the blue with no logical support but it was continued throughout the remainder of the story.

Lindsay sneaks into the hospital room of Anne Richardson in chapter 42. Anne says she gave the perpetrator the issues from May 1964—it should be 1963. Lindsay and Glenn discovered the box (in chapter 41) that was labeled “May 1963” and the week of Jimmy’s death was missing.

A few questions were left unanswered: How did Janine know about the diary? Who is Ivy? Why did Bobo keep Thomasina from Glenn?

Despite the issues outlined above, I loved the story and read it in one sitting. It was a nice escape into someone else’s world where the mundane quickly turned to intrigue.

A Page From the Past is available on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and at the Champagne Bookstore.

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