When We Last Spoke
A Novel (and now a movie) by Marci Henna
With the heart and humor of Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes and Rebecca Wells's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, author Marci Henna introduces you to the Cranbournes—a mostly lovable and undoubtedly nutty family who've had more than their fair share of hard times.
A beautiful blend of tears and laughter, When We Last Spoke tells the tale of sisters Juliet and Evangeline, who are dropped off by their Broadway-bound mother at their paternal grandparents' Texas ranch in 1967. After their cherished father is killed in Vietnam, the girls are orphaned. Still mourning their son's death, grandparents Walt and Ruby accept their role as guardians, only to be surprised soon after by another permanent houseguest's arrival—Walt's kooky mother, Itasca.
Fast-forward to the present, where the warmhearted home in which the girls grew up is now just a faint memory. The estranged sisters are in need of a good dose of Walt's famous stargazing wisdom: "You’ve got to look real close. Pay attention to what’s around you in this life. You’re liable to miss something important if you don’t.”
Packed with plenty of quirky characters and hilarious escapades, this must-read novel also digs in deep to the things that matter most—family, friends, love, and forgiveness.
It’s never too late to appreciate the love of family in Marci Henna’s most recent novel. "When We Last Spoke" is an accomplished work of art characterized by retrospective narration that takes us back to a small 1960s Texas community. For narrator Juliet Cranbourne, recollection is vital to personal identity, for the life worth living is the life worth remembering—sometimes endearingly, sometimes critically. Juliet’s recollections are characterized by nostalgia, ruthless honesty, confessions of personal shortcoming, and ultimately by forgiveness, including self-forgiveness. Such memories are “still dancing in [Juliet’s] mind, untouched by the constraints of time.” I would characterize our narrator’s outlook as follows: “I remember; therefore I exist across time—and as a person whose experiences, recollected in tranquility, make me more empathetic and, with minor exception, more forgiving, and more of a human being.”
The novel offers us the portrait of an artist as a young girl--and as rendered by the older Juliet, who is pensive yet witty and wry. To read "When We Last Spoke" is to experience exquisite prose, accomplished character development, mature narrative artistry, and a post-doc in humane sentiment. Readers all the while luxuriate in the “amber glow” of an “antique lantern” rather than suffer the neon glare of modernity.
LOVED THIS BOOK, MARCI!
Wow, Marci! I loved your book "When We Last Spoke". It's a touching story that truly spoke to the heart of what matters in life. It was easy to identify with the characters. Who can't identify with at least some of the challenges they faced, whether that was life interrupted, coping with the unexpected, being abandoned, holding on to hope, loving, forgiving and healing? Walt and Ruby were amazing as they accepted an unplanned role in life. Anyone who has had a Walt or Ruby in their life has been blessed, indeed! Your story was a strong reminder of how our burdens can actually become blessings. Growing up in the '60's myself, it brought back so many fond memories that made me smile over and over again as I read. Thanks for such a great book. I sincerely hope you are planning a sequel to this!!
This is a book that makes you feel good about life and people...
This book isn't a page turner in the classic sense. This is a book that makes you feel good about life and people in a time when it's difficult to have that feeling very often. So, I kept going back to it. This book is to literature what "comfort food" is to cuisine. Sometimes, we just need and want to listen to a good, entertaining story. If you are from Texas, more the better to enjoy the book. (I kept trying to figure out the town.) To let you know where I am coming from with this review, my favorite authors are Tom Robbins and F. Scott. If this makes sense to you and you have a hankering for apple pie, I recommend this read. You'll enjoy it.
-W M Murray
I so much enjoyed "When We Last Spoke"...
...that I think I read it in record time because I didn't want to put it down! Even though I had quite a few years on Juliet and Evangeline in 1967/68, their early lives brought back so many fond memories of my own childhood. Your characters were interesting and quirky without ever being "over the top!" Who hasn't known someone exactly like Walt and Ruby, and even Selma! Congratulations on a very entertaining book! I look forward to the next one!