Genre: Historical fiction
North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold―until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
My verdict: I read this book in a day. This book reminded me of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in regards to attitudes towards segregation and interracial relationships. The author is renowned for weaving several plots together with such vividness that it feels as if you are right in the heart of the story. With each chapter comes a new puzzle piece which readers must figure out. This is a novel about second chances, creation, passion and loyalty. I throughly enjoyed this book and how the author unfolds the narratives before the reader’s eyes, producing an ending even I couldn’t predict. Chamberlain’s books are often thought provoking and it left me pondering long after I’d finished if. Chamberlain’s insight into the human mind is incredibly detailed and layered. I particularly enjoyed the 1940 narrative as well as the well researched in-depth look into art restoration, the justice system and attitudes regarding race in southern America. I highly recommend. The author has a knack for when it comes it mystery and drama.