Local RVA author and posse member Ashley Farley releases her new book tomorrow, and you’ve got to add it to your summer reading list. Set in the imaginary coastal South Carolina town of Prospect, you will meet a cast of relatable characters who will immediately draw you into their familial story.
For the lucky few of us who received an advance copy, we all agree with the trade description:
For fans of Dorothea Benton Frank, Her Sister’s Shoes is a contemporary women’s novel that explores and proves the healing power of family.
Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry and packed with Southern charm and memorable characters, Her Sister’s Shoes is the story of three sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.
Samantha Sweeney has always been the glue that holds her family together, their go-to girl for love and support. When an ATV accident leaves her teenage son in a wheelchair, she loses her carefully constructed self-control.
In the after-gloom of her dreaded fiftieth birthday and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity, Jackie realizes she must reconnect with her former self to find the happiness she needs to move forward.
Faith lacks the courage to stand up to her abusive husband. She turns to her sisters for help, placing all their lives at risk.
In the midst of their individual challenges, the Sweeney sisters must cope with their mother’s mental decline. Is Lovie in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or is her odd behavior normal for a woman her age? No one, including Lovie, understands her obsession with a rusty key she wears around her neck.
This novel is Ashley’s second. Her first book, Saving Ben, spun a chilling tale from Charlottesville to Irvington, Virginia. In Her Sister’s Shoes, Ashley again winds intrigue and suspense into her plot and lovely setting, but as a more seasoned author, the new story flows effortlessly.
Once I started reading the book, I could not put it down. I devoured it like a piece of key lime pie from the Yellow Umbrella, our local seafood store that sells a delicious sweet and tangy version of the southern specialty. The Yellow Umbrella served as the physical model for the Sweeney’s family business, which plays a critical role in Ashley’s tale.
One of the first things I told Ashley after finishing the book was that I want her to revisit the town of Prospect in another story since I can’t visit it in real life. She painted such a vivid picture of this imaginary locale in one of my favorite areas of the world.
My fingers are crossed that she will continue to use it as the basis for her tales like Elin Hilderbrand uses Nantucket.
Speaking of the Yellow Umbrella, Ashley’s first book signing will be held there this Saturday, June 27th from 1-3 p.m. In celebration, the Yellow Umbrella will also host a wine tasting. If you can’t wait for your book to be delivered, plan to stop by to get a copy and toast the author (and maybe pick up dinner).
I admire anyone who can imagine a story and turn it into a novel, and having had the privilege of being an occasional listening post for Ashley as she persisted through the inevitable struggles that accompanied the writing and subsequent publication of this book, I stand in awe of her latest accomplishment. When I asked her awhile back, she confided her initial inspiration for Her Sister’s Shoes:
I got to thinking after we talked . . . about why I decided to write Shoes. The Sweeney Sisters have become such a part of me, I stopped questioning how they were conceived a long time ago.
Two summers ago, when I was visiting my mother, my brother took the kids and me deep-sea fishing. I hadn’t been in years. We had so much fun. His good friend and mate, Robert, went with us. The kids caught a bunch of fish of a variety I’d never eaten before. Can’t even remember what they called them. But Miles sold most of them to the seafood market where Robert works, which is of course customary. Being out on the water and in the inlet reminded me of how much I love the Lowcountry, hence the setting and seafood market.
I also wanted to write a novel about women our age and all the issues we struggle with including aging parents. I needed each sister to have her own crisis . . . . [Once] I had a vision of the ending . . . everything else fell into place after that.
From inspiration to perspiration and now, finally, to publication! Here’s your chance to take a trip to Prospect and meet the Sweeney sisters. Her Sister’s Shoes provides a great summer escape that you can carry in your beach bag.
June 23, 2015
p.s. If you can’t make it to the Yellow Umbrella on Saturday, Ashley will also be signing books on July 18th at the Barnes & Noble at Libbie Place from 1-3 p.m.