Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.
Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…
When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.
There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 7, 2018)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 7, 2018)
I had not heard of the the New London School explosion, the incident that sparked Sofia Grant to write this book and real life incident that occurred in 1937 when a gas leak caused an explosion in a school in New London, Texas where more than 295 children and teachers died. The explosion serves as a backdrop to The Daisy Children, told from primarily two points of view--Margaret Pierson, born after the explosion and one of the "Daisy Children" (a group of children conceived after their parents lost a child--or lost children--in the school explosion and assuaged their grief by having more children) and Katie Garrett, Margaret's granddaughter. Margaret's chapters start in 1948 and continue throughout her life and Katie's chapters are set in present day, after she learns Margaret has left her something in her will and ventures from Boston to Texas to find out about her inheritance. Katie is facing challenges in her personal life--trying to have a child, losing her job, and growing apart from her husband, Liam. Surprised at receiving something from a grandmother she met only once, Katie plans to find out what Margaret left her and then spend some time with her mother, Caroline. Instead, big bumps in her travel plans have her looking up a cousin she has never met on Facebook and Scarlett (sort of) comes to her rescue. Katie and Scarlett start building a family relationship while sorting the contents of Margaret's house and finding some long-buried family secrets.
This is my first book by Sofia Grant, although her first novel The Dress in the Window is on my TBR list. I enjoyed how she wove a lessor known/remembered and tragic part of American history into a story about family--mother and daughters, secrets, drama, estrangement and relationships. Margaret has a contentious relationship with her mother, Caroline and then an even worse one with her daughter Georgina, (Katie's mom) and Georgina and Katie's relationship is often tense. Katie and Scarlett are likable, thankfully because Margaret, Caroline, and Georgina are mostly...not...although as the stories unfold, I gained some understanding and sympathy towards them. Imagine being Margaret and feeling like you will never be loved as much as the sister who was killed and that you replaced. In addition to the family drama there is some romance--which seemed a bit quick to me given the circumstances--but did have its charms. Although I preferred Katie and Scarlett as characters, Margaret's story and the story of the explosion and the aftermath were interesting and absorbing and kept me turning the pages--as well as had me searching online for more about the history of the tragic event. To lose so many people, especially children, in what is the deadliest school disaster in American history is unimaginable--but even though it is a key part of the book, it doesn't bring down the ultimately hopeful tone of The Daisy Children. I found the book enjoyable and engaging and if you like historical fiction, women's fiction, and books about family drama and secrets, you will likely enjoy it too.
Author Notes: Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.
Find out more about Sofia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
There was a fair amount of food to be found in The Daisy Children including Thai food (mee krob--crisp noodles), sizzling rice soup, shortbread, bourbon, Gorgonzola mini quiches, shrimp, deviled eggs, onions rings, whiskey and mulled wine, potato salad, casserole, sheet cake, lemonade, sandwiches and cookies, chiffon cake, Texas Punch in a bottle, Starbucks, salad, a chicken sandwich, stew, orange blossom tea, a junk food assortment of Men's Health Nuts, Flamin' Hot Cheetos and Cheese and Peanut Butter Crackers, Lays Chips, and rainbow sherbet, Big Red Soda, iced tea, American cheese, apples, Cliff Bars and fried chicken, buttermilk cake, beans and cornbread, omelets, breakfast quesadillas of sausage and bacon and egg, chestnut dressing, roast, taffy apples, ribs and hamburgers, vodka, brisket, fish sticks and frozen mixed vegetables, Chicken Divan with Mornay sauce, ginger ale, Burmese food, beer, olives and Triscuits, gruel, a cocktail called a "Bend Over Shirley" (raspberry vodka, Sprite and Grenadine), bacon, lobster, a martini, pimento cheese sandwiches with the crusts not cut off, iced petits fours, broccoli and cheese quiches, a dish called Thrifty Tetrazzini, pimentos, chips, pizza, Sloppy Joes, salad and brownies, cinnamon rolls and fruit, and all you can eat crawdads.
For my book-inspired dish I thought about trying to create the Bend Over Shirley cocktail for fun, but instead I started thinking about the deviled eggs, mentioned as being popular at a party and pimento cheese (mentioned in sandwiches at another party). I didn't want sandwiches and started thinking about putting pimento cheese in deviled eggs. Apparently I am not the first as I Googled it and several recipes came up. I blended one from Good Housekeeping magazine with a pimento cheese recipe from Quick Fix Southern that is simple and I like to use it when I want pimento cheese for things like this and this and added a few of my own touches. I just made six eggs worth although I put the recipe for 12 eggs below.
Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs
Inspired by Good Housekeeping
12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half, length-wise, yolks removed
2 heaping tablespoons pimentos, drained well and coarsely chopped
1 green onion, white & green parts finely chopped (reserve some to garnish)
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup mayonnaise or drained yogurt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or Old Bay Seasoning + more to garnish
sea salt and black pepper to taste
In a medium mixing bowl, mash egg yolks and add pimentos, green onion, cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and paprika and gently mix together. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
Spoon into egg whites and garnish with a little green onion and a sprinkling of smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning. Serve and enjoy.
Notes/Results: OK, pimento cheese is one of those guilty pleasure things that you think you should not like (cheese & mayo with pimento?!) but in practice is delicious and only gets better when it fills a deviled egg. I made a half batch of these which was probably a good thing because all I wanted to do was eat them. I think they would be easily addicting. I used a smoked sharp cheddar and that made them even better with the smoky edge. I am all for a classic deviled egg, but experimenting is fun--so if you like to shake up your deviled egg game too, definitely try these. I will happily make them again.
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
Note: A review copy of "The Daisy Children" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.
Happy Aloha Friday!