Book Review by Becky Roupp
Aren’t we always longing to capture a piece of the past? How many of us want to see a vintage item come back to life? The theme is so popular, it’s everywhere, from the books we read, to the latest trend in weddings, to antique cars.
I was surprised to discover that the first book in Mariah Stewart’s new series is set in the Pocono area, which is very familiar to me and not far from where I live. Hidden Falls, based on a town in which Stewart’s uncle and his family lived, is a town left behind. Stewart is clearly well acquainted with the roads that twist and turn—the ones that seem to be heading nowhere until a town suddenly pops up.
In The Last Chance Matinee, Stewart introduces three very different sisters as the book’s main characters. And here’s the great twist: two of the sisters, Allie and Des, have no idea that their third sister, Cara, even exists. Only when the girls’ father passes away suddenly do the two separate families find out about each other.
The sisters’ inheritance rides on them fulfilling their father’s dying wish: to rebuild the theater in the small Pennsylvania town where he grew up. It’s in awful shape, and these women want to know why their father hid two families from each other. Living and working together allows the sisters to slowly uncover the beauty of the theater, much like the beauty in their increasingly tender relationships.
Will the theatre project be a success? Will the sisters be able to form some sort of bond? And how will they deal with their own demons and the murky past their father has left for them?
Just like Hidden Falls, the small Pennsylvania town where I live has a vintage renovated theatre. The restoration and renovation process that I have witnessed firsthand is painstaking, but the end result is amazing. Every time you walk into the theater and smell the delicious popcorn pouring from the old popcorn maker, buy a dollar soda, and watch the latest blockbuster, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. My connection with the plot made the story very special for me, but anyone can appreciate the universal themes of family bonds and restoring neglected historic gems.
I love being introduced to a series, finding my interest in and affection for new characters grow as I learn more about them. Stewart slowly peels the layers of characters away, leaving you rooting for the sisters because of their strengths and weaknesses. Stewart does a masterful job of setting the scene. Curling up with The Last Chance Matinee is both satisfying and rewarding. For me, it was like uncovering a jewel as precious as the theatre the Hudson sisters are renovating.
This is the perfect choice for readers of women’s fiction. Fans of Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, Viola Shipman will love this book.
Since joining Brodart in 2006, Becky has worked with a great variety of libraries, large and small; public, school, and academic. She loves adult fiction and is always eager to find new authors and series to read. Click here for more.