Millicent Glenn's Last Wish
By: Tori Whitaker
Publisher: Lake Union
Publication Date: 10/1/2020
My Rating: 5 Stars Three generations of women—and the love, loss, sacrifice, and secrets that can bind them forever or tear them apart. Millicent Glenn is self-sufficient and contentedly alone in the Cincinnati suburbs. As she nears her ninety-first birthday, her daughter Jane, with whom she’s weathered a shaky relationship, suddenly moves back home. Then Millie’s granddaughter shares the thrilling surprise that she’s pregnant. But for Millie, the news stirs heartbreaking memories of a past she’s kept hidden for too long. Maybe it’s time she shared something, too. Millie’s last wish? For Jane to forgive her.
Sixty years ago Millie was living a dream. She had a husband she adored, a job of her own, a precious baby girl, and another child on the way. They were the perfect family. All it took was one irreversible moment to shatter everything, reshaping Millie’s life and the lives of generations to come.
As Millie’s old wounds are exposed, so are the secrets she’s kept for so long. Finally revealing them to her daughter might be the greatest risk a mother could take in the name of love.
Finalist in the Fiction: Historical category of the 2020 International Book Awards
“This touching story of the love and forgiveness between mothers and daughters will win fans.”
“This is a heart-warming story of three generations of strong, independent women. The love of Millie for her family is at the core of the story and some well-placed twists and turns keep the reader engaged to the very end.”
—Red Carpet Crash
“A heartwarming and affecting novel centered around the love between mothers and daughters, of what we share and the secrets we keep…Whitaker brings us back to the 1950s, highlighting the old gender norms and the cost paid by those who tried to shake them…an engaging and illuminating walk through the not-so-distant past…with a worthy heroine to lead readers through a life full of loss, love, heartbreak, and, ultimately, of forgiveness.”
—Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone and the Tradd Street Series
“A novel about the legacies women pass to their daughters—and the price of the secrets they keep. Millie is a heroine to cheer for as she makes her journey from…working wife and mom to grandmother seeking forgiveness for her decisions—made because of jaw-dropping challenges you will never forget. You’ll miss her long after the book’s cover is closed.”
—Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Family and Those Who Save Us
“Get ready to meet your new favorite author as Tori Whitaker moves deftly forward and back in time in a lyrical exploration of motherhood and longing, secrets and regrets, mistakes and, ultimately, absolution. This is an author with great insight into both history and the female heart, and I highly recommend this heartfelt, beautifully written debut.”
—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Never Have I Ever and The Almost Sisters
“Tenderly told and full of heart, Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish is a deeply satisfying story that hooked me from the first page. Tori Whitaker’s debut offers a fresh and poignant perspective on motherhood, loss, and, ultimately, forgiveness.”
—Lynda Cohen Loigman, bestselling author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters
“Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish is a delight of a book that explores how one long-held secret can shape a family. Tori Whitaker’s characters sparkle with warmth and humanity, especially ninety-year-old Mil, whose voice rings clear and true throughout these charming pages.”
—Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Romantics
“Written with compassion and grace, Tori Whitaker’s Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish is a nuanced debut illuminating the multigenerational strength of love, loss, survival, and the limitless power of family. I dare you to read without shedding a tear. Readers will think on these characters long after turning the last page.”
—Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of Marilla of Green Gables
“Tori Whitaker explores the depths of mother-love with insight, care, and heart-wrenching honesty in this post–World War II story brimming with exceptional historical detail. A moving and emotionally charged debut by a writer to watch.”
—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War
“I loved this story. Tori Whitaker has created characters who are irresistibly real and hard to leave behind! A meticulously crafted debut.”
—Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of The Sisters of Summit Avenue and Mrs. Poe
“Attend the debut of a bright new talent…It’s alternately joyous and sad, scary and hopeful, but always wise and warm and overflowing with the wonder of being human.”
—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Cape Cod and Bound for Gold
“A poignant and touching story of three generations of women and the secret family tragedy that unwittingly binds them. With rich settings and fully realized characters that you’ll root for, this book broke my heart—and then stitched it back together again.”
—Colleen Oakley, author of You Were There Too
“Tori Whitaker’s moving novel…offers a clear-eyed look at how ‘the good old days’ were not always so good, particularly when it came to women’s reproductive health and autonomy. This well-researched and timely novel made me thankful for past generations of women, who, like the titular character, fought hard for the rights I hold so dear today. An impressive debut.”
—Susan Rebecca White, author of We Are All Good People Here
“A beautifully told and astonishing tale of the mysterious ties that hold a family together…Rich in detail and imbued with compassion, these characters struggle toward necessary forgiveness of a shocking maternity ward tragedy that feels all too relevant, even today. Whitaker cuts close to the bone from page one!”
—Kimberly Brock, award-winning author of The River Witch
“Packed with midcentury nostalgia and Cincinnati local interest, Whitaker’s dual-timeline debut walks a tightrope between a mother’s yearning to be truly known with what makes her eminently unknowable: a desire to protect her daughter that was born of love. Mothers and daughters alike will not soon forget Millicent Glenn’s last wish; they’ll recognize it as their own.” —Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling
“Readers, meet Millicent Glenn, a tough, savvy lady who has survived many challenges in her ninety-one years. But now she’s facing her biggest one yet…I rooted for Millicent and found the tenderness and complexity of the mother-daughter relationship so lovingly woven through this emotional and gripping story.”
—Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, author of This Secret Thing and cofounder of She Reads
“A page-turner…of the lives of three generations of women, spanning the post–WWII baby boom into the modern age. Each has experienced life at a different phase of emerging feminism. As the layered revelation of long-held secrets peels away, these women discover healing for years of misunderstanding, grief, and betrayal…a masterwork.”
—Diane C. McPhail, author of The Abolitionist’s Daughter
About the Author
My dream of writing a book first took root in my twenties, and some forty years later, I’ve seen that dream come true. Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish—part historical fiction and part contemporary family drama—is my debut novel. I love stories that shift between the past and present. Maybe that’s because my family had five living generations upon my birth, and when my own grandchildren came along, my family had five living generations again. This experience has also given me a sense of what we observe in those who’ve come before us … and what we pass down from one generation to the next.
I was born in the suburbs of Cincinnati, near where my novel takes place. I mostly grew up in Indiana, spent a decade in metro-Detroit with my husband’s career, and now we reside outside of Atlanta. We’ve been married for more than forty years, and we feel blessed to be near our two sons and their families.
My writing journey officially began when we became empty-nesters. I still write on the weekends and evenings while not at my job, and I’m known to use vacation time to draft pages for fourteen hours a day, or to take trips just for research. I’m a member of the Historical Novel Society, and my feature article, “Multi-Period Novels: The Keys to Weaving Together Two Stories from Different Time Periods,” appeared in the Historical Novels Review. I graduated from Indiana University, where I studied marketing and English. I head up the marketing department of a national law firm (yes, lawyers sometimes get a bad rap, but I’ve worked with this group for twenty-some years, and they’re the best!). I’m also an alum of the Yale Writers’ Workshop.
No matter my hectic schedule, I make room for reading or listening to books, doing a little cooking, and playing in the sunshine. And I enjoy the community of readers! You can connect with me directly here or on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Read More