Honeysuckle Season

Written by Mary Ellen Taylor
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

Honeysuckle Season is an intriguing novel of secrets, loss and family. A wedding photography assignment turns out to be life-changing for a woman who is trying to put her life back together after a series of losses. Libby McKenzie recently moved back to her hometown in Virginia after her marriage ended and her beloved father passed away. Reconnecting with her childhood best friend, Libby tries to rebuild her life and focus on her photography business.

She is hired to photograph the wedding held on the grounds of the town’s famous Woodmont Estate. The owner, Elaine Grant, takes an interest in Libby, inviting her to family dinners despite the obvious resentment of Elaine’s daughter. She also asks Libby to photograph the restoration of the old greenhouse on the grounds of the estate. Libby agrees, though she does not understand why she is being pulled into the Grant family.

In another storyline set 80 years earlier in the 1940s, the reader meets Sadie and Olivia. Sadie is a poor teen living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Olivia’s husband reluctantly hires Sadie to drive Olivia around town but secretly teaches Olivia to drive, against her husband’s will. When Sadie has to go on the run, the two women form a lifelong bond, strengthened by a shared secret.

Eventually the storylines converge, though it is not hard for the reader to guess the family secrets and connections. Both Libby and Olivia are tenacious and headstrong, and both understand the effects of loss. The storylines are engaging, and the writing evocative. This is a novel for those who like dual timelines and stories about family secrets.