The Sugarhouse Blues
(Book #2 of The Hudson Sisters Series)
Author: Mariah Stewart
Read by: Joy Osmanski
Length: 9 hrs and 31 mins
Release date: 05-15-18
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes more “catnip for women’s fiction fans” (Booklist) in the second novel in the Hudson Sisters series.Allie, Des, and Cara, each having her own reasons for wanting a share of their father’s estate, meet in the grand Victorian home in which he grew up, only to be greeted by another secret he purposely hid from them: his sister Bonnie. The women reluctantly band together to take on Fritz’s challenge, working with a local contractor to begin the renovations financed by an account Fritz had set up for the task. While the restoration appears to go smoothly at first, it soon becomes apparent that the work will be more extensive than originally thought, and Des, elected to handle the money, needs to find ways to stretch out the remaining savings while searching for new sources of funding.As strangers linked only by their DNA try to become a family, the Hudson sisters also try to come to terms with the father they only thought they knew. In the process, each woman discovers her own capacity for understanding, forgiveness, love, and the true meaning of family. http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Sugarhouse-Blues/Mariah-Stewart/The-Hudson-Sisters-Series/9781508261285
Some time seems to have passed since we left the Hudson girls with major renovation of an architecturally and artistically significant historical building their father’s will commanded they refinish and become pals doing it. You see, these sisters, two with one wife and one from another wife, weren’t all acquainted when their bigamist dad died. His demand, fix the theater while living under the same roof or lose the vast inheritance.
Yeah, well I thought that was a bit far fetched in the first book but in the second it’s become more normalized. I think outlandishness in general is becoming normal these days. I also don’t understand the name of the theater — the story takes place in Coal country, Pennsylvania and I thought a “Sugarhouse” referred to a building wherein maple sap is boiled down into syrup. But in Pennsylvania there’s a casino named the Sugarhouse Casino because it sits on the site of an old sugar refinery but I cannot find anything else about it.
Dad’s will brings together the offspring from a possibly bigamist, second-marriage, Cara, and her two half-sisters Allie and Des, both from the late Hollywood actress wife. Cara is a down-to-earth yoga instructor with a recently ended marriage – thoughtful and considerate she is entirely likeable. Allie is a animal-rescuing, former child-star. Allie was forced by her mom to act and, after many bad experiences, has no desire for the spotlight. She moved to Montana and funds an animal shelter. Des,the okdest sister is also divorced, with a daughter, and an alcohol problem. Des wanted to be the child-star but hadn’t much acting talent so she ended up being an assistant production on a cancelled series. For her, her inheritance is a life or death proposition.
While this story is the volume based on Allie’s romantic life and how an incident in her past has formed her love life and her love of animals, I felt it was more about Desdemona. But the last book, ostensibly about Cara and her love life, also did a good job developing Allie’s backstory. Balancing story lines like this is once of Stewart’s talents. Especially when you add in the family bit – two mysteries and a potential romance for the Aunt, Barney, who lives in the family manse. The family and the town are inextricably linked. And, though they made their money as coal mine owners and bankers, they treated the workers well and are much loved.
I have two issues Barney is in her seventies, but she is presented as ancient and having grown up in the 30s. Of course, there’s nothing to say this happens in this decade but I still feel the past is presented anachronistically.
I also don’t think I believe the building issues – especially that the state/county/town doesn’t have an issue with how the art in this historic building is restored.
Joy Osmanski does a comendable job – Barney sounds older but not ancient and each sister is consistenly represented with their own voice. Her tone is pleasant.
While I think the series is a bit fluffy, I am enjoying it. So I will probably continue to see what happens with Des and her daughter. Des has some real issues with drinking and her set-up is with a guy who lost his family to a drunk driver. I am interested to see how that all works out in the next book.