Lea Wait fills Shadows on a Maine Christmas with strong women. Foremost among them was Will Brewer’s Great-Aunt Nellie, but there are others too.
Among the others were antique print dealer Maggie Summer (the central character), the elderly Aunt Nellie’s childhood friends, and a rebellious teenaged girl.
Each of these women refuses to be shaped by the sexist expectations of the men around them.
When Will says to Maggie, “I shouldn’t have let you both get involved in this whole murder situation,” Maggie answers, “Let us? We don’t need your permission,” and the reader knows she means it.
This book broke into three parts. The first half is an idyllic description of a small Maine coastline town at Christmas.
The middle part shows Maggie and others unraveling a terrible series of events. Those events reach back into these people’s lives. The middle part of the story has a tragic ending.
And the third part is a tacked-on happy ending.
The book opens with a concise description of Maggie’s personal problem. She wants to adopt a child (or two children). Will, the man she loves, broke off their earlier engagement. Because of his own past, he does not want children.
To live with Will, Maggie will have to give up her job as a college teacher in New Jersey and move to Maine. During this visit, Maggie will have to make the final break with Will.
Then someone murders the caretaker of one of Aunt Nellie’s demented childhood friends. And the story goes from there.
Shadows on a Maine Christmas goes from idyllic to tragic. The tragedies are real--abuse, murder, and other crimes. In such a situation, there can be no happy ending.
But Wait tried to create a happy ending. That’s the part that jarred for me.
Shadows on a Maine Christmas surprised me. Its idyllic descriptions of a Maine Christmas were wonderful. The present-day crime (and its solution) was heartbreaking. And its strong women characters were true to life.
I liked this book.