May 31, 2012

book review: willow pond

A young mother, her family and friends join an inept police team in searching for her kidnapped son in Carol Tibaldi's prohibition-era debut novel Willow Pond.

Beautiful and smart, Laura Kingsley Austin recently left her man-whore movie star husband to raise their toddler son in NYC's Greenwich Village. When their son, Todd, is kidnapped while visiting her estranged husbands, Laura and a cluster of reporters and police officers depend upon their Hampton home, Willow Pond, to look for answers.

As the case progresses, evidence points back to a person Laura refuses to believe is involved. While searching for her son, a new romance and her soon-to-be ex's attempts at reconciliation complicate her life even more.

Set during a fascinating time in U.S. history, the scene settings and character settings are the novel's greatest strengths. As someone who loves period drama (you all have followed my Downton Abbey obsession from the beginning) the historical feel of this book appealed to me.

I was also intrigued by the main storyline of the book: a child kidnapped and the culprit is presumed to have links to the mob or old Hollywood. However, at times the story strayed away from this main plot point, and I frequently became frustrated with the lack of progress in finding Todd after so much time passed.

While I enjoyed parts of Laura's romance with German ex-pat turned investigative reporter Erich Muller and the baby daddy drama with Phillip Austin, this part of the story took turns I found overwhelming and distracting from the main point of the story: a woman searching for her lost son.

Without giving away any spoilers, Laura and Erich's lives together get more complicated than Anna and Mr. Bates' drama in season two of Downton Abbey (If you watch the show, you'll get this reference. If you don't, you should probably stop what you're doing and watch it). By removing one or two of these elements, the story would have progressed more smoothly.

Even though Laura has probably the most awesome name any character or person could ever hope to have, at times I she seemed like a weak protagonist. Too often she sat by and did nothing, and I wanted to tell her to get moving either to find her son or settle down with the man of her choosing. While she was nice enough and admirable for wanting a better life for herself and her family, I did not connect with her on as deep of a level as I hoped.

I preferred her speakeasy-owning, bootlegging, philandering aunt Virginia, who for better or worse is a woman of action. Perhaps the most intriguing and dynamic character in the story, Virginia has more layers than an onion and will do whatever it takes to get what she wants.

Carol Tibaldi creates an entertaining and diverting world in Willow Pond. I would definitely check out her future offerings.

Rating: 3.5 of 5

Read an excerpt of Willow Pond here.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with the author.

About Carol
Carol Tibaldi was born and raised in Bayside, New York and attended Queens College of the City University of New York. She loves to travel and has lived in London and Los Angeles. For twenty five years she worked as a newspaper reporter and covered the crime beat. She is a history buff and loves to research different time periods having a special affinity of the prohibition era and the Civil War. Willow Pond is her first novel and she is hard at work on the sequel.

Connect with Carol
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