Author: Ashley Farley
Book Name: Only One Life
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Family Life/Family Drama
Blurb: Julia Martin grew up wealthy, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, Jack, that she knew true happiness. He made her feel worthy and loved. Their marriage was also an escape from her sister’s bullying, her father’s scrutiny, and her chilly and enigmatic mother. But when tragedy strikes on the night she gives birth, Julia’s happiness is shattered. She has no choice but to return home to her family’s South Carolina mansion, where the grief and guilt buried in her mother’s past await her.
As a young woman trapped in a bitter marriage, Julia’s mother, Iris, once needed her own means of escape. In Lily, she found a best friend. In the flower shop they opened, she discovered independence. Then came a transgression—unforgivable, unforgettable, and unresolved—that changed Iris’s life forever.
Now, in Iris’s most desperate hour, her only hope is to regain the trust of the daughter she loves—and to share the secrets of the heart that could rebuild a family’s broken bonds.
I had a really hard time getting into this one and came really close to putting it down a couple of times. Mostly because, at least for close to the first 1/3 of the book, I really didn’t like any of the characters.
Meeting each of the main characters for the first time, I was left with the feeling that they were pretty shallow and self-absorbed. Julia came across as more of an angry, spiteful teenager that had their plans ruined rather than as someone truly grieving a deep loss, so instead of feeling sympathy for her, I just didn’t like her.
Iris wasn’t much better. The beginning of her relationship with Max wasn’t even remotely intriguing or romantic. It felt like she had zero emotional stake in it, but rather was more interested in what she could get out of that relationship; away from her poor upbringing and marriage into a wealthy family. There was absolutely nothing redeemable at all about Max or Alex. Both were horrible. Granted, they kind of are supposed to be, but that didn’t really make things much better. Lily also fit right into the unlikable, self-absorption character theme.
Once a little deeper into the story, you are FINALLY given a different glimpse of at least Julia and Iris and they became a little bit more human, which allowed me to keep reading. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to overcome such a negative first impression. While they were more humanly flawed, they still weren’t overly likable.
This just wasn’t a very satisfying read. The secrets alluded to in the blurb come out early for the reader and don’t feel much like secrets. When they are revealed to the other characters, it really doesn’t amount to much overall drama. With the difficult start and the lack of any kind of connection to the characters, this ended up being a “meh” kind of read.