Author: Charlotte Whitney
Published: 15th March 2022
Category: Historical Fiction, Crime, Mystery
When her new husband Sam perishes in a bizarre farm accident, would-be milliner Polly soon becomes the prime suspect in his murder. As she digs for evidence to clear her name, Polly falls into a sinister web implicating her in a nefarious crime ring being investigated by White House Police. Polly’s life and those of her family are at stake.
The Unveiling of Polly Forrest is set in Michigan in 1934 during the Great Depression and presents a striking picture of the hardships of that era. For the rural farming communities times were extremely tough. The prices for crops dropped so much that some farmers were left with no choice but to either sell up or lose their farms to foreclosure. There were no luxuries like indoor plumbing, extra money for clothes or anything but the most basic foods.
Polly lives with her husband, Sam, on the farm next to that of her sister, Sarah and brother-in-law, Reverend Wesley Johnson. Polly is young, pretty and immature, preoccupied with her own situation and not at all cut out out to be a farmer’s wife. She’s only been married a short time and the considerate and agreeable man she fell in love with has been replaced by a controlling bully. When her husband is killed in a freak accident Polly is at her sister’s house but that fact doesn’t seem to exclude her from suspicion due to the nature of the death.
The elephant in the room, of course, was that everyone in the congregation had seen Polly’s bruises and heard her story about falling off the hay wagon when she broke her ribs. I was sure it remained the main topic of conversation. Maybe Samuel Forrest was a cruel husband, but Polly, “Pushy Polly,” as Sarah had often nicknamed her, should not have rolled over and succumbed to his beatings, if that, indeed, had happened. Sarah and I had always been next door. She could have come to us for refuge at any time, day or night.
The story is narrated from alternating first person perspectives — Polly, Sarah and Wesley, all flawed, well defined and complex. This drives the story and shows the individual points of view as events unfold. The investigation into Sam’s death begins to uncover much more that expected and puts the family in danger.
Sarah and Polly’s relationship is strained at times, more so from Sarah who had been, and perhaps still was, a little jealous of Polly. Both have their own differing versions of their childhood, but it was good to see the development of their characters as the story progresses. The twisty plot kept my interest throughout, it’s entertaining, sad in parts and the historical aspect is very informative — not only about the plight of the farmers but things like telephones with party lines and how people could listen in to everyone else’s phone calls.
There’s drama, heartbreak and several serious issues covered, and even if I didn’t quite see what Wesley’s fall from grace added to the story, I enjoyed it very much.
My thanks to Stephanie Barko for the invitation to read The Unveiling of Polly Forrest via NetGalley. I’m also reviewing the book for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
Book links ~ Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Charlotte Whitney is the author of historical fiction set in the rural Midwest during the Great Depression. Her most recent work, The Unveiling of Polly Forrest, a stand-alone historical mystery follows her groundbreaking novel, Threads A Depression-Era Tale, which was met with much critical acclaim. In addition, she has authored I Dream in White, a contemporary romance, and How to Win at Upwords, a nonfiction book about her favorite word game.
She received a master’s degree in English at the University of Michigan, and after a short stint of teaching at two community colleges, worked at the University of Michigan where she was an associate director of the Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts. An avid reader, she loves libraries and book clubs. Currently living in Arizona with her husband and two dogs she enjoys hiking, bicycling, swimming, and yoga.
Find out more at CharlotteWhitney.com