Julie Holliday has been a faithful, strong, and loving wife for 30 years, but when a note offers evidence that her husband is unfaithful to her, her world shifts under her. Julie has given everything to her relationship with Dan and all she desires is for him to reciprocate her feelings. The couple built a million dollar empire together and although she dropped out of high school, Julie now owns her own business, a successful bakery that she loves.
Despite the fairytale facade of a life of comfort, dreams, and good people around them Julie finds she can't handle it anymore. She has suspected that Dan has been with other women before, but when will her love be enough? Julie takes action against the wishes of her friends and leaves for Rhode Island to start a new life with a new dream, building an inn in a place she loves dearly. Still three decades of love and memories don't vanish overnight and relationships prove to be more complex and nuanced. Julie experiences a journey of pain, betrayal, growth, and forgiveness.
I found this to be an interesting novel that explored the complexity of love in a marriage at middle age. It demonstrated attention to detail in the couple's relationship with their daily jests which allow the reader to feel equally torn at the note. Additionally, as something of a foodie myself, I absolutely loved the descriptions of food and appreciated the complexity of the dinners and meals prepared. I also liked the attention to the details of the flowers and other things that Julie cared about.
I think it might have been stronger if the whole book was set where she lives with Dan in New York. About a year passes in the book where she is anxious and fretting about the note and Dan, but the pacing felt too fast so that there was not enough time on character development and the daily life. Julie's faith, passion for baking, and love of hiking, as well as her panic attacks and various health issues such as diabetes could have been highlighted more in this time and brought further depth to her character. Also, at parts of the novel there were odd jumps in the plot where Julie would be talking with someone and then all of sudden she would be doing something completely different.
What was a bit disappointing for me was that beyond the relationship difficulties with Dan, Julie faced no other stresses or obstacles. She experiences no trouble selling off her other homes and finds the perfect property on the first outing with a real estate agent. Furthermore, when she moved to Rhode Island she instantly met super friendly people who were immediately willing to give up their jobs and live/work at the inn, this coupled with the fact that all the building happened in a nanosecond added to the unlikelihood of these events in real life. Building on a property often requires more permits and lots of things go wrong in construction, even with experts on the job. There were too many instances of Julie calling up a friend and the next day they would build whatever it was she wanted. The absolute ease of all her other circumstances and the over the top friendly generic personalities of her friends were missed opportunities for adding more complexity and relatability to the story.
Despite all this, it was a novel that held my attention and I enjoyed some aspects more than others. I recommend this if you enjoy books about complex marriages and relationships and reading about cute inns with good food!