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Cancel the Wedding

 

By: Carolyn T. Dingman 
ASIN:  B00GLRZZ42By 
Publisher:  HarperAudio
Format: Unabridged Audio 
Publication Date:  08/05/2014 
My Rating:  4 Stars
 
A heartfelt fiction debut that will appeal to fans of Emily Giffin’s Southern charm and Jennifer Weiner’s compelling, emotionally resonant novels about the frustrations of blood ties,  Cancel the Wedding follows one woman’s journey to discover the secrets of her mother’s hidden past—and confront her own uncertain future.
 
On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?
 
Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.
 
As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?
 
 

My Review

 

Carolyn T. Dingman’s debut novel, CANCEL THE WEDDING, a compelling Southern contemporary novel with a mixture of mystery, and light romance, as one woman uncovers buried family secrets of the past, while discovering the journey to her own future.
 
 
Olivia has a nice career, a sister, niece, and a handsome fiancé. Her mom has recently died from cancer, and when her final wish is revealed, Olivia and her sister Georgia are baffled. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to the area to visit, so they are unsure why she wants them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes. 
 
 
Olivia is engaged to Leo, and plans for her upcoming wedding has her overwhelmed and she feels backed into a corner as they finalize their plans—things are moving too fast. (they are not a great fit, as they have been going to a therapist). She decides this will be a good time to have some time alone to clear her head and make an escape.
 
Her older sister Georgia does not think it is a good idea, nor does her overbearing finance, Leo. However, her fourteen year old niece, Logan decides to accompany her on the road trip from Maryland to Huntley, Georgia to scatter her mom’s ashes. 
 
When Olivia arrives in this southern town, she begins her investigation to attain clues of her mom’s secret past. Through a private letter delivered to the two sisters, by Janie’s (their mom) lawyer, after her death requesting half of her ashes be spread at Lake Huntley, northern Georgia and half at a grave site in Huntley Memorial Gardens. Georgia and Olivia are puzzled by this request, as Janie had never talked about her youth in Huntley. 
 
 
As the investigation begins, a local guy, Elliott, who runs the local newspaper is quite helpful, and they have much in common. He is supportive of her efforts, whereas Leo is not. As she begins to uncover more about her mom’s past, Olivia decides to extend her stay and rent a lake house, and her niece falls for a local boy Graham and becomes a camp counselor. 
 
 
Olivia finds her mom had a secret life and as painful as it was, she had never mentioned her past; however, Olivia makes it her mission to carry out her mom’s dreams and learns the events and the reason for the request. Throughout the book there is a parallel between Olivia’s current relationship and that of her mom’s past. Olivia discovers more about herself while, discovering her mom’s painful past. 
 
 
As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life and truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past - and say yes to her own desire to start over. 
 
 
When I first noticed the front cover, of CANCEL THE WEDDING, appeared to be a road trip, similar to Claire Cook or Joshilyn Jackson humorous drama, with a gal escaping her wedding. However, it was much more, than a chick-lit, with the multi-generational saga of one family’s history of dark secrets of the past. While there is a past romance of her moms, and a new romance budding; however, the mystery and events of the past is front and center. 
 
 
I enjoyed the fresh, hip and natural dialogue between teen, Logan and Olivia, as well as the funny local characters. My favorite character was Elliott, as the boy next door, and totally disliked Leo and Georgia. I listened to the audio version and enjoyed the narrator, Tavia Gilbert with a nice performance of all voices. 
 
 
Since I lived in Atlanta most of my life prior to moving to South Florida, always glad to discover new authors in the South. Fans of Sarah Jio, or  readers enjoying a light mystery and historical contemporary fiction, with the multi-generational tie in, and complex family dynamics. Look forward to reading more from Carolyn! 
 
 
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