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Title: Tangled in Ivy
Author: Ashley Farley
Published: 9th of June 2020 – Leisure Time Books
Format: eARC Netgalley – 304 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’ve been having some very unproductive days recently, I’ve wanted to do so many things and I start with all good intentions but end up doing very little! I fancy reading about 20 different books but can’t actually be bothered to pick any up and I also need to do some bullet journaling, so I think I’m going to have to write myself a schedule to keep on track with everything!
That being said, I was surprised at how rapidly I was able to finish this book, I read it in one sitting and wasn’t able to put it down because I just wanted to keep reading! I have been pushing myself out of my usual fantasy and historical fiction favourite genres recently and I was really excited when Rachel reached out to me with this mystery book! Thank you to Rachel for inviting me to take part in the tour. Keep reading for my thoughts on Tangled in Ivy!
From the bestselling author of Sweet Tea Tuesdays comes a story of true love that spans decades.
Lillian Alexander’s father is dying of cancer. When he rambles on in a morphine-delirium, Lillian can’t ignore the feeling he’s trying to tell her something. At his funeral days later, she encounters ghosts from her past who stir long-suppressed memories from the day her mother died twenty-seven years ago. Why, if her mother’s death was an accident, does Lillian harbour guilt, as though she were somehow to blame?
When Lillian and her twin sister, Layla, learn the Stoney family fortune is gone, Lillian fights to save her ancestral home on Charleston’s prestigious East Battery. Desperate to resolve her money problems and get answers to her questions about the past, she tears her father’s study apart in search of clues. She discovers a thumb drive in a hollowed-out hardback copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls. The thumb drive, marked For Lillian in his handwriting, contains her father’s memoir. Secluded in the family’s cottage on Wadmalaw Island, she immerses herself in her father’s account of his stormy relationship with her mother. What she learns sets her on a journey of self-discovery.
Tangled in Ivy is a tale of tortured souls and southern family dysfunction.
Tangled in Ivy by Ashley Farley is a mystery book set in Charleston. We follow Lilian and Layla, twin sisters right after the death of their father and having to come to terms with some truths they don’t want to hear. On top of their father’s death and daily events going on in their lives, they have to get over their animosity and Lilian, in particular, has to try to unravel the truth she has been blocking out for nearly 30 years concerning her mother’s death.
I have to say firstly before going on to the review that there are some quite sensitive themes in this book. Firstly, the book opens with Lilian and Layla’s father dying after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. There are also themes of adultery, depression, bullying and self-harm. I don’t want to go into too much detail in case this would spoil you, but just be aware that there are some complicated and often unsettling elements to this book before you decide to dive in.
I have to say that I haven’t (I don’t think), read that many books set in the south of America. This one is set in Charleston, I will admit I’m not good at geography and had to check on a map, but you definitely get some really Southern vibes from this book set in South Carolina.
The book is both set in the past, I would say between the 1980s and the 2000s, but also in the present-day. The story goes back and forth from Lilian’s first-person point of view in the present to Graham’s third-person point of view in the past. I’m not sure that these narratives and points of view were always consistent because quite a few times I had to go back and check as it was a bit jarring to me, I do remember however thinking something was clashing.
I got much more of a feel of the setting, the town, the country, the time and the people from Lilian’s point of view even though it wasn’t the most extensive, but I did pleasantly enjoy her father’s narrative also, I always love to read double narratives, especially when they go from past to present simultaneously.
Lilian: Lilian, I suppose, is the main character of the story, even though the book doesn’t revolve solely around her. She has her own point of view and her own characters and there is definitely her search to find the truth and to unblock what her mind has kept hidden from her since her mother’s death. I found her to be really relatable, she is bookish and rather shy, I really identified with her and I did like her narrative even though I found her lacking a bit emotion-wise, especially when you realise the extent of emotion in the plot.
Layla: She is Lilian’s twin sister and I absolutely despised her from start to finish. She is such an unlikeable character, I just really struggled with her and wanted to just blast her out of the book. She was a very important part of the plot and I understand that she needed to be like this, but I really hated her, she is such a horrible person, such a bully to her sister and I just wanted to shake her (or worse aha!).
Ivy: I think that Ivy was definitely the actual main story of the book because it revolves around her completely. I thought that the fact that we only ever see her through her husband or daughter’s eyes was really interesting and it turned her into a type of unreliable character as we never really knew her thoughts or intentions. I have to say I wasn’t much of a fan of Ivy’s but I think that the author did a great job of describing her and portraying her as a really complex and misunderstood character.
Graham: I absolutely loved Graham and he reminded me so much of my own father. He is an academic and is basically very bookish – which doesn’t resemble my dad very much – but he is so in tune to Lilian particularly and loved his wife and daughters so much that my heart just went out to him. It was so interesting reading his own take on his life with Ivy and I found him to be such a lovely character that I couldn’t help but really enjoy his chapters.
Trudy: I think Trudy was my other favourite character, I just loved her! She has been with the family since she was a young girl and has basically been a nanny, mother, cook, cleaner and adviser and I instantly adored her. She has such a strong motherly influence on Lilian, their relationship was so lovely and precious, I loved reading more about her.
I think this is going to be the hard bit because I don’t really know how much I can say without giving too much away. As I’ve said, it does have some more sensitive topics such as depression, repressing memories, bullying, adultery and death, but in essence, it’s the story of a family, three generations of which confront everyday problems and more complex ones, along with long-hidden secrets that their children and grandchildren have to unwind.
If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a fan of these types of themes generally, but I really enjoyed reading this book and it didn’t bother me in the least. It definitely had more of a mystery feeling to me, rather than the thriller I would describe it as from the plot, and I think that it was a great choice by the author.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and once again, it was another blog tour book that really surprised me, completely out of my comfort zone, but very enjoyable. I sort of had worked out the main part of the plot, but I let my thoughts and theories go around the middle of the book to just enjoy it. I wouldn’t say that it was overly complex or surprising, but I do think that the writing style and the structure of the back and forth between past and present, father and daughter, was so original and really well executed.
I gave this book 4.5 stars, I really enjoyed it, it just felt slightly lacking on the emotional side for me personally. I think this book has a lot of things going on and one of those main things is maybe heartbreak, misunderstanding and secrets, which would imply very strong feelings and emotions from the characters, and I just felt that at times I was missing some of the feels that I was expecting.
Thank you so much to Rachel and Ashley for letting me take part in this blog tour and for providing me with a free copy of the book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this review, see you soon, stay safe,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – ASHLEY FARLEY
Ashley Farley writes books about women for women. Her characters are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives facing real-life issues. Her bestselling Sweeney Sisters series has touched the lives of many.
Ashley is a wife and mother of two young adult children. While she’s lived in Richmond, Virginia for the past 21 years, a piece of her heart remains in the salty marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she still calls home. Through the eyes of her characters, she captures the moss-draped trees, delectable cuisine, and kindhearted folk with lazy drawls that make the area so unique. For more information, visit www.ashleyfarley.com
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Barnes and Noble – Scrib’d – Kobo