In 1948 a murder/suicide rocks a small west Texas town, devastating a prominent family, changing their lives forever. At the center of the tragedy is Opal Evans, the widow. Over fifty years later, terminally ill, her only desire is to forgive herself for the unspeakable aftermath resulting from the chaos. She wants to face the person who betrayed her trust and let him know he separated her from her faith.
With the support of her brothers, their families and an unlikely former student, Opal discovers the forgiveness and the faith she thought she left behind in her twenties, while her niece, Joy, discovers a love story she never expected.
Harold sat watching Opal recall the house. He never expressed his opinion about his parent’s need to maintain a social presence. It didn’t sit well with him. In fact it irritated him. He thought the need to have material things and be seen in the community as law-abiding, church-goers was the root of their problems. Opal saw the family one way, and he recalled their existence in a different way. He supposed it was a gender thing. Opal liked the silver, china, bridge-playing, choir-singing. He, on the other hand, didn’t feel those things were necessary. He didn’t mind attending church, but he saw duplicity there. The boys tended to be out on the town more, observing the men of the church in the pool hall, courting women, not their wives, gambling, and telling irreverent jokes. He knew their father was one of those men, living one way in view of his family and church, and living another way when they weren’t looking. Harold knew the gambling was a problem and caused the financial problems they discovered after Billy Mack’s death. Harold’s memory was not as flattering to his father. Sometimes he thought his mother’s desire for silver and china was the reason their father turned to gambling. He wanted to blame someone, but he wasn’t sure who. I’ll let Opal have her pleasant memories. No sense upsetting her at this stage of the game. What’s gone is done. Nothing we can do about it now. She may not even know about the financial problems. Opal may have been in the hospital when we discovered that. I can’t remember. No harm done keeping that away from her. She had enough to worry about. Nothing anyone could do about it anyways.
In Opal’s Story, author Phyllis H. Moore brings a taste of her home and the spirit of the Texas region to the reader, through one woman’s compelling life story.
Opal’s Story is a novel that looks at how one tragic accident, a murder suicide involving a beloved husband and brother, tears a family apart. The incident occurred in 1948 and the fallout from this unexpected accident has the power to reverberate down the years. In the present day, Opal Evans is nearing the end of her life due to terminal illness but she cannot put the past behind her. She finally reveals to her niece her devastating story. This story becomes Opal’s incredible journey. It opens up how Opal dealt with the aftermath of the terrible accident, which robbed her of the lives of three people dear to her. It also details how Opal eventually went on to reclaim her life. Finally, it also examines the closure as Opal nears the end of her life, realising she has some unfinished business to attend to.
Opal’s Story is a very individual journey and a powerful one. It moves between the past, set in the late 1940’s, to the present day, in an easy to read fashion. Moore does a good job of setting her scene, making her readers aware of the limitations and the social graces that defined the era in which the book is initially set – 1948. I welcomed the opportunity to travel back in time, to learn more about Opal and her family as well as some key acquaintances. What I also appreciated about the book, was the well defined setting. It was great to be introduced to the small town charm of the little Texas based town where the novel’s events are largely based. The dialogue was a little hard to get a handle on at times, due to the specific local expressions but this also adds to the originality of the book. Opal’s Story is a character driven book, with Opal at the helm, moving the interesting narrative forward. On the whole, I did enjoy Opal’s journey, I admired her inner strength and how she was able to turn her life around to help others in the face of adversity. This is a book that has the ability to tug at the heartstrings. It is emotional in many spots, especially the ending, which was bittersweet.
Opal’s Story is a book that draws on the importance of family, personal triumph, forgiveness and faith. It is a gentle family saga and an endearing read.
Opal’s Story was published in November 2015. Click here for more information on how to purchase a copy.
With thanks to the author, Phyllis H. Moore, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.