Friday, September 22, 2017

Review: Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole + Tour-Wide Giveaway!!

Publisher: Ballantine Books / Penguin Random House
Pub. Date: August 8, 2017
Pages: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction | Literary Fiction | Women’s Fiction


A woman sets out on a cross-country road trip, unknowingly tracing in reverse the path her mother traveled thirty years before.

In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage.

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival.

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.

What Did I Think About the Story?

I absolutely adored Jessica Brockmole's debut novel, Letters from Skye, when I read it a number of years ago. It was the first epistolary novel I can remember reading that just completely captivated me and brought the characters and the Isle of Skye to vivid life. While I haven't yet read her sophomore novel, At the Edge of Summer, I've been wanting to for some time and didn't want to miss the chance on this newest book, Woman Enters Left, when the blog tour was announced. So I jumped on board and I'm so glad I did!

Woman Enters Left is really two stories in one - that of film star Louise Wilde in 1952 and that of friends Florrie and Ethel in 1926. I say it's really two stories because each is so well developed and detailed that I sometimes forgot that they were even connected through mother (Ethel) and daughter (Louise). Louise's story is narrative in style, describing her journey across the country and her search for truth and self, while Florrie and Ethel's adventure is told in journal entries, grocery lists and notes and, later, letters, medical records, and court documents. I really loved having these two stories that seemed, in broad theme, to be very similar, told in such different and unique ways. Even the actual drives are very different - Louise's is relatively comfortable and stylish - in my mind she looks very much like the woman on the cover! - while Florrie and Ethel are camping outside, under lean-to tents, and trying to mask pain, both physical and emotional, from each other. Even with these differences each woman is searching for the same thing - honesty, love, and hope that what they truly desire will become easier to see and, in a perfect world, attainable.

The time periods and situations are wonderfully brought to life in each story as well. It is so easy to picture the Hollywood heyday that Louise lives within, a filmy glamour that hides sexism and ugliness not far below the surface. We also get to see the aftermath of war through Louise's husband, who has just arrived back from the Korean War and is still dealing - or not dealing - with trying to get back to normal life with the addition of an injury that has put him in a wheelchair. I love this juxtaposition of glitz and glamour with heartache and unseemliness. In our other storyline, we have, on the surface, two friends on a great adventure across the country - one reaching towards a fulfilling career and one reaching towards family - while hidden below this surface is complicated love and great illness brought about when both of these women worked together painting luminous dials on watches that, unbeknownst to them, was giving them radium poisoning. I was only vaguely aware of Radium Girls before reading this story but I found this aspect to be quite fascinating. I also became quite taken with both Florrie and Ethel and hurt along with them as they tried to find their own happiness in the midst of some devastating realities.

While these two stories are quite separated, there is still the connection between Ethel and Louise and it kind of broke my heart watching both, in their own timelines, trying so desperately to find each other (Ethel literally and Louise figuratively). Louise's search for the truth of what happened to her mother and why her father took her away (leading to Ethel's journey with Florrie) was bittersweet but what it did do was give her time to figure out her own life and what she wanted from it. It also led to a wonderful, heartfelt ending that I absolutely loved.

I can't say enough about Woman Enters Left. It is such a uniquely told story that captures what it means to search for love, meaning, and happiness in life. Highly recommended!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

Come on it's perfect! The woman on the cover is Louise, with all her style and Hollywood attitude (in a good way!) and the car is exactly what I pictures her driving across the country. I can't think of anything else I'd rather see on the cover.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and Random House Books for providing me with a free copy of Woman Enters Left in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. Be sure to continue below for more information on the book, the tour, and how you can enter to win one of two SIGNED copies for yourself!

Advanced Praise for Woman Enters Left

“Tender, touching, original, and rich with delicious period detail of Hollywood’s heyday—buckle up, because you’ll definitely want to go on a road trip after reading this delightful book!”—Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home

Buy the Book



About the Author

Jessica Brockmole is the author of At the Edge of Summer, the internationally bestselling Letters from Skye, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly, and Something Worth Landing For, a novella featured in Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War. She lives in northern Indiana with her husband, two children, and far too many books.

For more information, please visit Jessica Brockmole’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

It's Giveaway Time!!

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 signed copies of Woman Enters Left! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form HERE.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Good Luck!!

Woman Enters Left Book Tour Schedule

Monday, September 4

Review at Creating Herstory
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, September 5

Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, September 7

Interview at T’s Stuff

Friday, September 8

Feature at Passages to the Past

Monday, September 11

Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, September 13

Feature at To Read, Or Not to Read

Thursday, September 14

Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, September 15

Review at Trisha Jenn Reads

Sunday, September 17

Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Monday, September 18

Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, September 19

Interview at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 20

Feature at BookLiterati

Friday, September 22

Review at A Literary Vacation

Monday, September 25

Review at Portebello Book Blog

Tuesday, September 26

Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Wednesday, September 27

Feature at Books of All Kinds

Thursday, September 28

Review at Jenn’s Book Vibes

Friday, September 29

Review at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, October 2

Review at What Cathy Read Next
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, October 5

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, October 6

Review at Broken Teepee


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