From Marsha Moyer, the critically acclaimed author of The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch, comes a second novel as rich in atmosphere and heart, as brimming full of colorful, unforgettable small-town characters and incidents as her notable debut.
On a lazy June morning in Mooney -- a wooded patch of sparsely populated northeast Texas -- a shiny red Chrysler sedan pulls up to the home of Lucy Hatch and her live-in beau Ash Farrell, depositing a teenage girl on their doorstep before speeding away. For Ash, town carpenter and musician, the unheralded arrival of his daughter, Denise -- whom he hasn't seen in nearly eight years -- is a major life-altering shock. It's a surprise for Lucy as well, since she's had little reason till now to recall the fourteen-year-old's existence. And the unanticipated intrusion is certain to further complicate Lucy's increasingly complex relationship with Ash, now that she has discovered she is pregnant with his child.
Angry, rebellious, and uncertain -- having been unceremoniously dumped by her mother on the father she barely knows and the stranger who now shares his life -- Denny must somehow find a place where she belongs in a town far tinier than any that has imprisoned her before. But it's not until she picks up Ash's guitar -- and hears the songs that were born in her father's heart -- that Denny and Ash are drawn closer together by the common bond of music. In its haunting strains and true emotions lies hope -- that Denny can finally settle down, that she and Lucy can build a real friendship, that all of them can become, at last, that most rare and precious thing: a family.
But anything that happens in a place as small as Mooney has repercussions for every one of its residents. And when an ugly incident divides the community -- raising specters of suspicion, hatred, and intolerance -- the members of the growing Farrell-Hatch household will be deeply affected as well.
From its rollicking dance halls to its tree-shaded front porches, the world Marsha Moyer creates in The Last of the Honky-tonk Angels draws us inexorably in and makes us feel right at home. A glorious novel of love, family, and forgiveness, it is at once funny and poignant, startling and uplifting, richly imbued with the author's luminous prose and a vitality that reminds us all of how good it is to be alive.
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Marsha Moyer is a native of Texas and has lived there all her life. She is the author of one previous novel, The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch.From Publishers Weekly:
When we last saw Lucy Hatch, the spunky young widow of Moyer's first novel, she had succumbed to the whirlwind courtship of irresistible Ash Farrell, day-job carpenter and nighttime singer of country blues at the honky-tonk in their small northeast Texas town. Three months later and still steamy with sexual combustion, Lucy and Ash are shocked by the arrival of Ash's 14-year-old daughter, Denny, who's dumped on their doorstep by her flyaway mom. Lucy is knocked askew. Not only is she suddenly a surrogate parent, she also discovers that she's about to become a mother herself. The suspense of this sequel is activated by the leading characters' secrets. Lucy is afraid to tell Ash about the baby; Ash has ambitions in Nashville that he's keeping close to his chest; and ugly duckling Denny just wants to sing and play the guitar like her father does. Complications ensue, but they're down to earth and credible, if not dramatic. As before, Moyer makes the smalltown Texas atmosphere almost palpable: the heat, the (always good-hearted) gossip; the daily, dedicated beer drinking; the consumption of fast and fried foods are as authentic as a 10-gallon hat. Celebrations such as Juneteenth and the Fourth of July have a real rural flavor, and the twanging plaints of country music infuse everyday lives. When Denny's friendship with a black boy incites racism, the plot twist is predictable. On the other hand, Moyer springs a surprising insight into Ash's past, in the person of his mysterious mother, to explain the contradictory impulses that rule his behavior. While the romantic pas de deux in The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch had an astringent edge, this novel has the sweeter tone of people making do with the hands life deals them. Readers who met Lucy the first time around will want to follow the further adventures of this engaging heroine.
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