cover image The Annie Chase Story

The Annie Chase Story

Aileen Ridings Bennett, . . Behler, $15.95 (230pp) ISBN 978-1-933016-31-3

A girlhood oath of friendship haunts two women in Bennett's debut novel, an awkward iteration of the tragic mulatto story. In 1940s Tennessee, Jessica Marie Tyler and biracial Annie Chase form a friendship, which ends when Jessie moves away. When Annie's black mother dies, she is embraced by her white father, Geoffrey Bradley, a widower and Supreme Court justice, and his son, Seth. Annie then chooses to pass as white. Fifteen years after the girls part ways, Jessie, now a magazine writer, is instructed by her ruthless editor to interview the fiancée of prospective presidential candidate Sen. John Downing, a woman the editor suspects is black. The interviewee is none other than Jessie's childhood soul mate, now known as Anne Elinor Bradley. Should she honor Anne's secret or exploit their friendship for her career? Jessie chooses to protect Anne, gets exclusive coverage of Anne's prominent wedding and falls in love with Anne's half-brother Seth. As the women's lives progress, Anne's heritage remains precariously hidden, though always safe with Jessie. But a sudden, tragic turn of events forces Jessie to make a nearly impossible choice about revealing the truth. Wooden writing and improbable, overly tidy plotting sap the novel's suspense and emotional impact. (Oct.)