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Publication date: November 8, 2022
A prized heirloom opens up a century of secrets in a bittersweet novel about family, hard truths, and the author’s self-discovery. Millicent Glenn Last wish.
Melanie Barnett thinks she has it all under control. With an ex-boyfriend and a pending promotion at a Kentucky bourbon distillery, Melanie has discovered that love and career don’t mix. Ella until she makes a discovery while cleaning her Jordan MX car, a scarlet red symbol of independent Jazz Age women that she inherited from her great-great-grandmother Violet. Her secret compartment contains Violet’s well-worn diary, within it an intriguing message: Take what you want from this story, Melanie, and you can bury the rest. Melanie wonders what else there is to learn from Violet’s past.
In 1921, Violet Bond does not give in to anyone. Theirs is a life of adventure in Detroit, the center of the automobile boom and the fastest growing city in America. But in an age of speakeasies, financial windfalls, free-spirited friends, and unexpected romance, it’s easy to lose control.
Now, as Melanie’s own world takes unexpected turns, her life and Violet’s life intersect. Generations apart, they are acknowledging and questioning what modern femininity and happiness really means.
The story of two women, separated by generations but united in both blood and spirit, unfolds between the pages of a matter of happiness by Tori Whittaker.
Told in two stories, the story goes back to 1919, when young Violet comes of age and already longs to make her mark on the world. As a Kentucky girl on the cusp of Prohibition, she knows her future will mean leaving Frankfort and the distilleries. Her excitement is palpable as she navigates the family relationships that will result in her newfound independence.
The author uses a car to connect Violet and Melanie, whose childhood memories of Aunt Violet “Grape” spark a strong sense of nostalgia. Meanwhile, Melanie’s career in promoting a bourbon distillery serves as a valuable opportunity for the author to provide information on Kentucky bourbon.
As Violet’s story unfolds, she continues to focus on the importance of her mother’s advice that “you only get one life.” That advice serves as a key theme throughout the story, building a bridge between past and present.
As a Kentucky native, I appreciated the author’s attention to detail in describing Frankfort and Louisville, especially the classic car show. With such a rich backdrop, the characters easily came to life. The contrast between the time periods helped convey the significant changes in women’s roles in the workplace.
a matter of happiness offers a strong story that is both moving and satisfying.
Tori Whittaker is the best-selling author of Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish Y a matter of happiness. she belongs to the Association of Bourbon Women and the Historical Novel Society. His work has appeared in the historical novel reviews Y Markers magazine. Tori is a graduate of Indiana University, a Yale Writers Workshop alumnus, and recently retired from a national law firm where she served as director of marketing. She spent a decade in Detroit because of her husband’s career in the auto industry. The two now live near their children outside of Atlanta and have been married for forty-five happy years.