cover image June


Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. Crown, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-553-44768-2

Beverly-Whittemore (Bittersweet) offers up two interconnected tales of family secrets, 60 summers apart. The present-day tale centers on 25-year-old Cassie, holed up in St. Jude, Ohio, in the crumbling manse called Two Oaks. The house was willed to her by her recently deceased grandmother June, who raised her. Mourning not only June's death but also the recent deterioration of their relationship, Cassie is befuddled to discover that she may be a bona fide heiress, as Hollywood legend Jack Montgomery has left her his entire fortune. The assumption is that Cassie's father was the product of a whirlwind affair between Jack and June, back when St. Jude was the setting for a film back in 1955. Yet Cassie, in a decision that seems included primarily to drive the plot, refuses to agree to a DNA test, forcing Montgomery's equally famous daughter to schlep out to St. Jude herself. Their present-day detective work is interspersed with scenes from the filming of that 1955 film, conveyed largely from the point of view of June's young companion Lindie, who secretly harbors romantic feelings for her friend. Although some fantastical elements don't quite work (Two Oaks is sentient, and it shapes the behavior of its inhabitants), the dual narratives are enjoyable both singly and in tandem as the novel explores the changing possibilities for women, the evolution of the Hollywood fame machine, and love's potential for genuine human transformation. (May)