Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in her life, mainly her marriage, when her great aunt Stella insists she return to her hometown of Cottonwood, Georgia to restore the old family mansion. She and her husband have grown apart over the years, and she blames it on the fact that he is always golfing or doing some other activity. Not to mention the fact that he does not want to have any children. But while in Cottonwood, Jo-Lynn finds secrets beneath the dust and peeling wallpaper-secrets about her great aunt's past that she has not divulged to anyone. Jo-Lynn wants to understand Stella's past and and reconcile with her husband, but she does not know that she has to let go of her wants and let God deal with the rest.
Eva Marie Everson based this story on her past, and I have found that books based on realistic events are often better than completely fictional stories because authors are forced to be realistic. So is the case with Things left Unspoken.
First of all, the characters are complete with imperfection and personalities. This type of plot needs good characters, otherwise the book is incredibly boring. Eva delivered in the character department. This is another reason one should write books based on real life events: because hopefully the real people are captured with the real plot.
This is not your typical return-to-your-hometown-and-reconcile-with-your-past book. There is no ice between Jo-Lynn and her family, which is a nice change. There is no former boyfriend or old flame. There is no political intrigue or family enemies. This is a normal, everyday life story. The plot alternates between the past and the present, giving the reader glimpses of what really happened in Stella's interesting past. Jo-Lynn and Stella are not portrayed as victims because they were instigators in their perspective situations.
The end gives Eva a lot of potential to fix things. She may have been tempted to fix the situation between Jo-Lynn and Evan. She could have reunited them in a fierce love of their youth and had Evan give in to the idea of children. But Eva resisted. She could have had Stella's past be reconciled by a certain method. But she did not. She didn't have to have all the key character deaths at the end. But she did. This book is very unusual when one considers that Eva Marie Everson also wrote the Potluck series and the Potluck Catering series, books I would never think about reading. But that's what happens when authors use real life experiences rather than manufacturing something that is improbable to happen.
I can think of many authors who need to learn how to write a five star book by reading Things Left Unspoken. Eva Marie Everson has made her mark on fiction. The fiction market is turning toward originality.