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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Debbie Boucher's historical tale, The Aunties, is a novel within a novel. The narrator is Deborah (Deb) Meltzer, a novelist. When Auntie Rose dies, Deb, her sister Lil, and their cousin Si discover a treasure trove of family letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photo albums, including a hand-written memoir by their grandmother, Marian Barnett Meltzer. Marian was the mother of Rosalie, Annabelle, Elisabeth, Al and Deb's father, Franklin. Deb, Lil, and Si discover a family past that is both shocking and fascinating. Deb decides to write a novel about their family. The chapters in The Aunties alternate between the past and present, beginning from the early 1900s, through WWI and WWII, and the contemporary present. The novel follows the lives of the aunties in NY, Brazil, and California.
I was captivated by Debbie Boucher's novel The Aunties. I loved the way Boucher keeps the family saga alternating between the past and present. That approach reveals vividly the emotional and questioning reactions of Deb, Lil, and Si as they come face to face with the turmoil and turbulent events in the family's past. Each shocking discovery leads to more questions, and I loved the tension Boucher creates in the novel: Will another letter or photo or a page in the diary reveal an explanation? Whose version of the events is closer to the truth? I liked, in particular, the story of Auntie Ann because her life covers the childhood days in NY; the years in WWII when she was with the Red Cross in England, Germany and France; her years in Rio de Janeiro, and eventually in California. I very much enjoyed this wonderful and well-crafted historical novel interwoven with a family saga!