It’s hard to believe that both The Last of the Moons Girls and The Keeper of Happy Endings were published just over a year apart.
Seriously, how do writers do it?!
I do know some authors can churn out multiple books a year. That’s usually only certain genres though and the results are often… less than polished.
But not with these.
Both books by bestselling author Barbara Davis are beautiful, intergenerational stories of family that are about not letting anyone else write your story for you.
Technically a murder mystery, the book is also full of the unexpected lightness of magical realism. It maybe helps the tragedy of the murder of two young girls is 8 years old, but for the characters in the story this feels very recent.
What helps keeps this heartbreaking story from getting too dark are the inner workings of Barbara Davis’ trademark independent protagonist, Elzibeth Moon.
As important as finding out the truth about the murders is, her inner struggle to figure out her role as the last of the Moon girls is just as vital.
She is determined to clear her grandmother’s name and prove Althea’s innocence.
And yet, she keeps being distracted by her family’s strange legacy and the journal Althea Moon left just for her.
Lizzy has her own special gifts, and her greatest obstacles have always been twofold: how much she wants to push aside the traditions of generations of moon girls, and how little she understands her own self-worth.
In a way, this makes perfect sense.
No one wants to feel they have no say in how their life turns out. But that’s exactly what Lizzy Moon was born into: a legacy of women gifted with “Magick“.
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Only ever giving birth to daughters (and never allowing themselves a husband who would only try to control them), the Moon women pass on their stories and instructions to the next women in the line in their journals (called “Book of Remembrances”).
Not wanting to be stuck on the Moon family farm forever, Lizzy left for college and left the town for good.
Living in New York City and fully immersed in the corporate world is about as far a cry as she can get from the lavender fields she grew up in.
That is until Althea’s death brings her back to the New Hampshire town of Salem’s creek. All of a sudden, her past and future are all around her.
Only wanting to be there long enough to sell the farm and with no plans to have a daughter of her own, Lizzy’s story is truly one of being the “last moon girl.”
From the first page, her captivating story of personal growth is equal parts riveting and relatable. Lizzy comes to understand what her family’s role really was in the town only after her beloved grandmother Althea dies.
And is that always the way? So often we don’t fully understand the generations before us or we minimize their contributions.
Lizzy gets to see and hear firsthand the positives Althea brought to the women of Salem Creek, and it’s partially what opens her eyes to what it really means to be a Moon girl.
The realization that fighting something you might want, just because you were told to want it, is also something that really resonated with me.
I suspect it will with others too.
This beautifully written novel is one of the best novels I have read this year. A compelling mystery full of colorful characters it will have you racing to the last page just to see how this love story and tale of intrigue.
This book deserves a spot on your reading list. Better yet, discuss it with your reading group using these The Last of the Moon Girls book club questions.
You won’t be disappointed!