Cover Image: The Absence of Evelyn

The Absence of Evelyn

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Member Reviews

Loved the descriptive writing, the travel scenes to exotic places were beautifully done.  They fit in well with the story which was a journey of self-discovery, redemption, love and healing.  Beautifully written.  Will definitely read more from Jackie Townsend, an excellent writer!
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This story took me back to my trip in Hanoi, specifically the Halong Bay cruise. It was my first time to be on a cruise and I felt like big bucks. There were just about 20 of us in the junk and we felt like we owned the boat. It was only an overnight stay in Halong Bay after a tour of the floating villages, pearl farm and the big cave in one of the islands. We kayaked in tandem. It was an amazing experience except for the fact that Halong Bay is not exactly as beautiful as in the pictures. The water was not clear and there was even a smell which is not the same refreshing and revitalizing salty air you would usually breathe when at sea.

The Absence of Evelyn is a story of familial love. The love between sisters. The love between parents and kids. The love between mothers and daughters. The story revolved around three women--Evelyn, Rhonda and Olivia. Evelyn and Rhona are sisters. Olivia is the adopted daughter of Rhonda. The story will take you through the longing of Olivia for her real parents and Rhonda's getting to terms with the absence of Evelyn.

I always love stories about women--women's literature. There is always this poignant display of emotions when you talk about women. Our pain, disappointments, triumphs and struggles are always filled with more intensity and drama. I guess, it has to do with us women being emotional beings. We are drama queens at some point in our lives and even if we try to downplay some of these emotions, they still show and come up to the surface. It's in our anatomy. It's how we were made. We were made to feel and exhibit those emotions. We were made to share and spread these feelings out to the world. We were made to feel deeply and passionately about a lot of things, especially about things that we hold dear like family and friends.

At first, I kept asking who is Evelyn and what she is in this story. Then, as the dynamics between Rhonda and Olivia was explained it slowly became evident the role of Evelyn in their lives. She is the glue that held all the connections between Olivia, Rhonda, Carlotta and Marco. With her absence, it seemed that the link has been severed also. Some of them were left drifting like Marco, finding no reason to live. Others like Rhonda became scared and fearful of the changes. Olivia, on the other hand, was looking for that something to make her whole.

I liked how one Skype call changed everything. It prompted the series of events that moved all these people into each other's orbit. It propelled each person to reach out and in turn each one discovered what's the significance of the other. It was like playing connect the dots. It all starts and ends with Evelyn.

This is a very moving story of finding oneself. To realize that the one thing you were looking for was right in front of you. To find that there is someone or people out there who cherished the same things as you do and you have a common ground--a connection that could never be erased by distance or time. That knowing where you came from can actually lead to to finding the person you want to become.

I give this 4/5 junk boats. I was not happy with the ending. Not everything was resolved. Marco should have done something to make up for his shortcomings and for the time that were wasted. What happened to Marco's character made the ending incomplete. All the other characters in the story had been able to find solace but not Marco. I think it was so cowardly of him to not face his situation. I think he should have been thankful instead of turning his back. I wished there was a better ending for Marco. I think he too deserved some measure of happiness and peace after all that he has been through.

She stood, listening to the silence, a silence so unlike the one she knew--the desert--dried up and hollowed out, empty. But this silence was different. Full and lush and alive. She felt strangely attuned to it, the soft wind, like a howling animal.

- Jackie Townsend, The Absence of Evelyn -


Thank you again Netgalley for the copy.
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I felt that the flow of the story could have been smoother, there was a lot of jumping around without much transition.  I thought it was a decent read but I was not  invested in the characers or their journeys.
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This was a book that really makes you think about your life and the impact after you are gone and the ties that you have with your loved ones.

Candidly written and inspiring.

Some formatting issues but assuming this was only because this was an ARC
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A book for the soul, with candid references to loneliness, love above all in unusual ways, relationship struggles and longing for identity. I enjoyed this one slowly, with endless cups of tea and crumble cakes. 

Evelyn's absence itself is a character in its own right, a strong presence paradoxically. I was especially imoressed by Townsend's skill to bring such strong connections together through the memory of someone dear. 

All characters are beautifully portrayed, each in his own right, with weaknesses and so many hopes. Somehow it seemed to me that the novel is a lot about hope. For Olivia hoping to find her identity by pursuing her dream. For Carlotta hoping to find her dad and the meaning of her own family relationships. For Rhonda is hoping to get some closure about the lies and truths throughout her life. For Marco is probably hoping he doesn't ruin anyone else's life like he mentioned it; though I believe his secret hope is to find himself again and accept the importance of relationship with his daughters. 

This novel is deep and thoughtful like a cup of green tea at sunrise, with specs of wishful thinking and candid realisations. In a book club it could spark so many discussions. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys this type of writing, as describe throughout my review. 

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The family connection can be, by turns, tenuous, life-affirming, and tragic.  The ties between sisters, mother and child are at the heart of ‘The Absence of Evelyn’.  
After Evelyn dies all of the people in her orbit are left to deal with what her loss means to them and how her loss reflects on their other interpersonal relationships.  It’s not a stretch to say that the main character of this book is the one that is absent, because her loss is the cause of every action and reaction within the pages of this book.
While there are parts that I did not love (see ending, prior to epilogue), the balance of the book tells the story of relationships both lost and found in a way that will keep you engaged throughout.
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Definitely an enjoyable book with great, strong characters that you feel like you know.  I was compelled to find out how things turned out for them all.
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I found myself engaged with the characters, but at times the plot line jumped without any transistion and left me as a reader a little lost.  Formatting issues, which may be due to ARC, made it hard to sometimes udnerstand who was speaking.  Interesting plot and characters.  Kept waiting for it to get better, but was still engaged to the end.
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