Judith D Collins
The Last House on the Street
Publication Date: 01/11/2022
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, e-book, audio
Narrated by: Susan Bennett
My Rating: 5 Stars +++ (ARC)
Worthy of 10 STARS!
From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel that perfectly interweaves history, mystery, and social justice.
When Kayla Carter's husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories.
When she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It's clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area...and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla's elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it's clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key?
Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.
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Narrated by the fabulous Susan Bennett!
January Indie Next Pick
"[A] twisty, riveting ride." —People Magazine, People Pick
One of Marie Claire's Most Eagerly Anticipated of 2022
—January Indie Next Pick
"When it comes to cozy dramas with a side of suspense, nobody does it better than Diane Chamberlain."
“Chamberlain delivers the goods with this affecting and spellbinding account of a community’s buried secrets.”
“Diane Chamberlain is at her absolute best in this dual timeline about Ellie, a young crusader for civil rights in 1965; Kayla, the woman who moves into the house next door 45 years later, and the woods that connect more than just their properties. Sensitively and unflinchingly told, this novel will make you cry, seethe, swoon and rage. I’ve loved every book Diane Chamberlain has written, but The Last House on The Street is, without doubt, is her masterpiece.”
-- Sally Hepworth, New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD SISTER
"Diane Chamberlain elegantly braids together two stories, set apart by history, to render this taut, edge-of-your-seat tale of two women reckoning with the dark truth of the land they each call home. As compelling as it is important, the novel's focus on the efforts of a group of college students in the South during the Civil Rights movement will no doubt make it a favorite amongst book clubs everywhere."
-- Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of THE WHISPER NETWORK
"A powerful novel of our time, both a searing indictment of racism and the power of humankind and a page-turning thriller. It is a very powerful book. Strong and fierce."
-- Cathy Kelly, bestselling author of OTHER WOMEN
"Chamberlain (Big Lies in a Small Town) delivers the goods with this affecting and spellbinding account of a community’s buried secrets. In 2010, North Carolina architect Kayla Carter reluctantly prepares to move into her dream home with her three-year-old daughter, Rainie, after her husband, Jackson, died in a freak accident while building the house. Kayla is approached at her office by a woman named Ann Smith, who claims to be a potential client but unnerves Kayla by talking about Jackson’s death, and by telling her she is thinking about killing someone. After moving into the new house, Kayla and Rainie meet neighbor Ellie Hockley, who recently returned to the area to care for her aging mother and ill brother. In a parallel narrative set in 1965, Ellie joins a student group to help register Black voters. She faces danger from the KKK while working alongside other students from Northern colleges and the members of her local Black community in N.C., all of which is exacerbated by her attraction to a Black civil rights activist. As Kayla learns Ellie was once in a romantic relationship with Kayla’s father, she uncovers a series of terrible events that occurred in the woods surrounding Kayla’s property. Chamberlain ratchets up the tension with the ever present mystery of what Ann might be up to, and the dual narratives merge beautifully before an explosive conclusion. This will keep readers enthralled."
--Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
“Timely, topical, and brilliantly compelling.”
―Pamela Klinger-Horn, The Valley Bookseller
―Sherry Fritzsche, Bank Square Books
―Laura Harvey, Copper Dog Books
“A rollercoaster of emotions.”
―Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books
―Elizabeth Merritt, Titcombs Bookshop
One of my favorite authors and ultimate storyteller, Diane Chamberlain, returns with her best yet! A moving dual timeline, two women a decade apart, where two powerful stories intersect in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET.
Intricately woven and meticulously researched a spellbinding compelling tale of long-buried secrets which began at the height of the civil rights era and a forbidden love story.
Contemporary: Set in North Carolina in 2010, meet Kayla Carter and her young daughter, Rainie. She and her husband are successful architects, and her husband recently died in a tragic accident while building their new home. Currently, she is set to move into the beautiful home they had designed together; however, she has mixed emotions due to the location of his death. Yet she knew he would want her to be happy there.
As the novel opens, an older mysterious woman approaches Kayla at her office and warns her not to move into the new home. Shortly after that, strange unexplained things begin happening.
A new upscale development, Shadow Ridge Estates —her house is the last one on the street in the middle of thick woods, a lake, and eerie kudzu that looks like monsters. The others are currently under construction. However, one older house across from her does not fit in this development, and rumors are the owners would never sell.
Historical: Set in North Carolina in 1965, we meet Ellie Hockley and her family. Ellie is a college student at Chapel Hill and becomes inspired to advocate for black voting rights even though she is white. She loved her Aunt Carol which has passed on and would approve. Her parents are totally against it.
Ellie comes from a rich well to do southern family, and her dad is a local pharmacist. Her dad, mom, and brother Buddy think she is out of her mind to participate in this project.
Ellie joins SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education) project. Most of the students are from the northern areas as volunteers to register black voters in the South as part of President Johnson’s voting rights bill act.
This would involve staying with black families and canvassing the area. Most families have no electricity, poor in rural areas, with outhouses. She would also have to be careful of white men in trucks that hate whites with blacks and the KKK.
Ellie chooses to go against her parent’s wishes and soon becomes immersed in the project and soon discovers she adores these families and becomes a song leader. In the process meets a black student which she respects, Winn. She falls in love with him. However, in these times, this is deadly.
Fast forward to 2010 and Kayla moves into the house. Ellie left this town years ago and resides in California. However, Ellie must return to the old house to take care of Buddy and her mom in the house across from Kayla. Kayla and Ellie meet and the dark haunted past comes to the surface and the lies, murder, tragedy, and hatred buried in these woods for an explosive finale.
What a book! These characters linger long after the book ends. I particularly enjoyed the 1965 timeline and Ellie’s character. I grew up in the 60s in the South in NC and can relate to Ellie and this time. Diane’s account is spot on and I became enthralled in both storylines and plowed through it in one day - devouring it. I loved Ellie and Winn and despised her small-minded town, parents, and friends.
After reading the digital copy, I was granted approval for the audiobook narrated by one of my Oh, my! I listened to the audiobook a few weeks later, and Susan’s performance was award-winning! Diane and Susan make for a dynamic duo and one of the BEST audiobooks of the year.
It is sad our horrific history and our country even today. Those who have so much hatred against blacks would kill and destroy lives. In Chamberlain’s winning signature style, the author takes us on a journey where she explores the dark side of humanity. The parallel storylines connect seamlessly for an explosive ending that will have your jaw-dropping.
Beautifully written, Diane is a writing machine and one of the best authors out today. I have read every book she has written and am unsure how, but she continues to get better and better if that is possible. If you have followed my book blog for the last 8 yrs. you are aware, I am a huge fan of the author and her books. Heartfelt, her stories will pull on your heartstrings time and time again.
She writes books that make you feel and think. You are assured of learning something new along the way that will have you googling. Her books are meticulously researched and well written. Her characters are so real you feel like you are experiencing everything they are feeling and seeing. She is not afraid to tackle topics such as racial, abuse, social injustice, and others.
Her settings tend to be set in the South, particularly in NC (I am a native). She takes bits of essential and often forgotten history and re-imagines it. Crossing many genres- SUPERB! Her best since Necessary Lies (my all-time favorite) .
A combo of historical, thriller, psychological, domestic, suspense, mystery, literary, romance, southern, and more.
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET my top 3 books of 2022 thus far. This is a must-read and ideal for book clubs and further discussions. For fans of Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain. Worthy of 10 stars and prime for the widescreen.
A special thank you to #StMartinsPress # Macmillan and #NetGally for an advanced digital and audio copy. I also purchased the hardcover copy to add to my Chamberlain collection.
My Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 +++
Pub Date: 01/11/22
About the Author
Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.
Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.
More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.
Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.
Please visit Diane's website at www.dianechamberlain.com