Edith and Clare are a pair of delightful characters in I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos
I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2018, 320 pages
Surprisingly (to me at least), I've become a big fan of de los Santos! I guess I sort of avoided her books for a long time because I thought they'd be too "fluffy", too sweet. Her plots aren't necessarily original BUT her characters are superb and I have to say, I love her writing. I enjoy her phrasing and the way she presents her characters' dilemmas and challenges.
This story has two parts - one about Edith and one about Clare. It starts off with the great love story of Edith and her husband Joseph, how they are two halves of the same whole.
“Why, I’ll be your blue sky,” he’d said. What could she do, what could anyone do with a man like that but marry him and live in his house near the ocean?"
"....she would lie awake long after he’d fallen asleep, enfolded in two sorrows, Joseph’s and her own, but also in a radiant, awestruck gratitude at what she understood was the great honor of her life, not being loved but loving, soothing this good man, making him feel safe."
Then the chapters alternate to Clare on the day before her wedding and her uncertainty that she's making the right decision. Does she really love Zach? This is where this type of story usually goes off the rails for me. It becomes too angst-ridden and full of the repetitive self-doubt questions that these women characters all seem to have. Thank goodness this author avoids that cliche! Clare finds this way to explain part of her problem with her fiance to her mom and almost-mom:
“Whenever he sees me reading a book,” I said, slowly, “he buys it and reads it, too.” “So you can talk about it together!” said my mother. “Share in the experience.” But one glance at Cornelia’s face told me she understood. “Every book?” she asked, quietly. “When you don’t ask him to?” I nodded and watched the same shiver that had crawled up my arms ripple over her scalp. She slid her fingers through her boy-cropped hair. “What?” said my mother. “I don’t know,” I said. “It’s hard to explain.” “The inside of a book is a private space,” said Cornelia. “Someone barging in uninvited is—” She shivered again. “Every book? Really?”
As the story unfolds in alternating chapters, we see the women deal with the problems life throws their way and find a way to surmount them....not easily or quickly, but with strength and determination. Instead of sappy, angst-filled characters, de los Santos characters are complex and interesting but don't devolve into whiny people over their problems. I want to be friends with all of them! I love the depth and growth of both Edith and Clare even though I could see where the story was going from a long way off. Didn't matter, her writing kept me fully engaged.
I'll Be Your Blue Sky even has a little mystery introduced to arouse your curiosity about how the two women might be connected. Without giving away the small secrets, it was thoroughly enjoyable to share each of these women's lives for a time, to root for them and maybe shed a little tear with them, but most of all to find a satisfying, tidy end to the story.
"That smile never stopped taking me by surprise. It was found money, an arrowhead, a shooting star, a great, shiny stroke of luck every single time."
(I read that line and immediately thought of my husband and how I felt when I first met him and even now, 40 years later - that smile! And here's one more quote that really spoke volumes to me.)
"I am one of those people who believes that at least half of love is paying attention."
If you haven't picked up a de los Santos novel yet, maybe now is the perfect time. Something light but impactful, romantic but not gushy, a mystery but no murder, and characters that will certainly stick with you. Highly recommended.
Book photo via pexels.com; beach photo by Terrie Purkey, Washington