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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Tholocco’s Wake: Book One of the Legacy Series by W.W. Van Overbeke is the first in what is obviously planned to be a series that moves back and forth from the current day, 1968 to the late 1930s and 40s. It follows the love, romance, marriage, and ultimate dissolution of that relationship, one that was unduly influenced by two wars; WWII and the Korean war. Emma McCarthy has been separated from her husband Patrick for over fifteen years now but for some reason has never taken the ultimate step of divorcing the man. She freely admits she still loves him, almost as much as she hates and despises the man he became. When their daughter Carrie rings Emma to tell her that her father has been shot during an attempt on his boss’s life, a U.S. Senator running for President, Emma feels duty-bound to travel from Minnesota to Atlanta where Patrick lies gravely ill in hospital. On a long trip fraught with difficulty and uncertainty, Emma has plenty of time to reminisce over the wonderful relationship that began with Patrick, when they first met and became high-school sweethearts, as well as pondering what when wrong to destroy the beautiful love they shared and to change Patrick so desperately from the sweet boy she fell in love with into a raging alcoholic womanizer with self-destructive and violent tendencies.
Tholocco’s Wake is a gentle read that explores the destruction of a relationship and marriage when one of the partners changes or is changed by circumstances outside their control. The plot is straightforward enough and appears to be heading for a logical conclusion when W.W. Van Overbeke manages to completely sideswipe readers with his clever and totally unexpected plot twists – I certainly did not see that one coming, so kudos to him for that. I particularly loved the flashback style of the novel which allowed the reader to fully discover and understand just how special this relationship and love affair had once been and how it was so viciously unwound by two major catastrophic events that occurred in Patrick’s life. This definitely allowed the reader to grasp some understanding of what motivated Patrick to throw away a seemingly perfect marriage and life, to follow the bottle and other women. The author’s style is extremely descriptive and he manages to bring alive the extremes of life in rural Minnesota, especially the weather extremes. Readers who enjoy placing themselves in the environment an author has created and living the drama along with the characters will absolutely adore this story. I am also sure many women readers will identify with the dilemmas Emma faced as she tried to deal with Patrick’s change in attitude and behavior. It will be interesting to see where the author takes this in the next book in the series. I, for one, am interested enough in this tale to want to find out. I can definitely recommend this read.