Cover Image: Once Upon a Sunset

Once Upon a Sunset

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was such a wonderful book! I loved everything it was about and then some. I highly suggest everyone to read it! I’m so thankful for being able to get to read this book!
Was this review helpful?
I picked this up on a total whim because I loved the cover and it was about a woman’s journey discovering her past and her roots and traveling to the Philippines.  It sounded too good to pass up.  I haven’t read this author before so it was my first time and it won’t be my last!

ONCE UPON A SUNSET quickly became an addictive story.  There was something so captivating about this story and following these characters.  We not only get to know about our main protagonist, but also her mother and grandmother.  So very different stories but yet all touching in different ways.  Finding a new family that welcomed and rejected them at the same time.  It really highlighted how some decisions can have such big repercussions in life and trickle that effect down to generations.  In this case, the decision taken by our main protagionists’ grandfather.

Along the way we also get some romance.  I think it was done really well, woven into the main story seamlessly.  It kept taking me along and wanting to keep reading, not put this down, until I had read it all.

In a way, this was a subtle story.  But it had everything I wanted to see.  Some drama, some romance, emotions, family, culture, adventure.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from this author in the future.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you for a copy of this book. I ended up DNFing this book. This due to not understanding what the book was about.. I thought this book was more of a romance based on the cover. Was not expecting a book focused on a mother/daughter relationship. I am not feeling connected to the story and going to stop here.
Was this review helpful?
This was a wonderful novel about family!  So much has happened in Diana’s life. She’s lost her grandmother, her boyfriend, and possibly her job. She discovers that she has relatives she didn’t know about in the Philippines. She wants to go there to find out the truth. But her mother doesn’t want to go along. The story revolves around family, love, and forgiveness. There are touching moments and sad moments. But there are also fun and humorous moments as well.
Was this review helpful?
Diana Gallagher-Cary is going through a transition. She’s just been asked to take a leave of absence after making a split-second decision to rearrange laboring mothers in birthing rooms at the hospital where she works as an OBGYN. In her mind she was taking care of a suffering patient, regardless of cost or insurance coverage—unfortunately, the administrators at her hospital don’t see it that way.

To make matters worse, Diana’s long-time boyfriend has just moved out…and her mother has moved in. While Diana is helping her mother unpack, she stumbles upon an old box of letters written between her grandparents. She decides to distract herself from her current misery by reading through all of them, and, shockingly, she discovers that her grandfather didn’t die in World War II, as everyone had assumed. In fact, Diana has a whole slew of relatives still living in the Philippines that she never knew about. With nothing else to do, Diana decides to embark on a journey to discover more about this new family—despite the fact that her mother seems terrified of what it will reveal.

MY THOUGHTS

Once Upon a Sunset is a feel-good story with a satisfyingly strong female protagonist. I love that the focus is on family first, romance second (though there is some romance thrown in there). The story stays light and easily-digestible, but some heavier topics (involving major family secrets) are discussed. I love that Diana isn’t perfect, but she is extremely competent and driven. She doesn’t shy away from the truth. I also could relate to her relationship with her mother being important…but also not the easiest at times. It felt very believable to me. This one’s a nice and easy beach read for sure.
Was this review helpful?
Heartwarming with intricate relationships of family, relationships, food and love. I adore Tif Marcelo's characters. And I love that this was partly set in Manila and the family dynamics is what made this book for me. The romance though was lackluster.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoy Marcelo’s ability to engage her audience and create true to life characters. I don’t usually like women’s fiction, but I liked this one a lot. As someone who knows little about her Filipino heritage, I felt myself relating to the storyline. I recommend trying this one!
Was this review helpful?
Once Upon a Sunset wasn''t quite what I was expecting - based on the synopsis, I expected to follow Diana's journey, when i really think Margo is the heart of this book.

In part, I feel that way because Diana seemed pretty immature for an adult, let alone an almost 40-year-old. There's one scene in particular that had me wanting to throw my phone (e-reader) across the room, when she acts like a teenager. Truly, this book would make a lot more sense if it were labeled YA and Diana were written to be considerably younger.

Margo, however, was a fantastic character. A 75-year-old grappling with issues of identify, becoming an influence, and setting off to travel with her two closest friends? I'd have enjoyed Once Upon a Sunset a lot more had greater focus been placed on Margo. Diana may serve as the catalyst, but Margo's the reason the reader cares what happens - she spent decades believing her father died in WWII (as part of the First Filipino Infantry Regiment), when he hadn't. 

I'd recommend this one to those looking for contemporary fiction with a hint of historical fiction and romance (the letters - flashbacks to the 1940s - seem to have as much weight throughout the book as the romance storyline). I especially appreciated that Once Upon a Sunset didn't shy away from how difficult it would have been to have been in an interracial relationship in the 1940s, and how learning new information made Diana and Margo confront their identities in different ways.

Thank you to Gallery and Pocket Books for a free e-arc for review.
Was this review helpful?
I always pick up a Tif Marcelo book when I want to read a something that makes me sad, hopeful, swoony, and seen. Once Upon a Sunset is exactly that. It's a book about self-discovery, facing the darkest parts of ourself and coming out the better for them. Plus it takes place in the Philippines which is making my self-isolating self desperate to hop on a plane and go.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun read and certainly an interesting one. 
I've never read anything by this author either. I found her style of writing rather good! I like how she makes her characters real and believable especially mother and daughter and of the secrets that were kept from them. That is so wrong in my opinion! 
I liked Margo and Diana! They were certainly interesting that's for sure. I like them because of the way the interact with each other even going so far as to annoy each other at times. To me, that's considered family. Doesn't most family members act that way? Family doesn't have to be blood relatives. 
The other thing I really most loved was the mystery that was woven in. I felt the author has done this rather well. This is what kept me on the edge of my seat. I wanted to see what happened next! I wasn't disappointed! 
When the author described the different scenery, I felt like I was actually there and I appreciated it because I needed a break from what is going on in this world today. 
I love learning new things including things about the Filipino culture that rarely is used in a fiction story. I wish more was written about this culture. I feel like the author knew what she was doing and I"m sure she had to do a little research to make a great story such as this one. 
 I was happy in getting to know Diana and her family through this wonderful book. I'd like to read more by this author. 
I can also imagine myself on the cover of the book lol. Beach time! An excellent beach read too! 
My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book. I was NOT required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this beautiful escape and the rich character development. The plot was paced perfectly and the book kept me turning the pages. Enjoyed spending time in Tif's world. Thanks for letting me read Once Upon a Sunset. I'll definitely read more from this author.
Was this review helpful?
I truly enjoyed the characters in this book. I found it to be a wonderful story of a mother and daughter who were very realistically portrayed finding more about family history that had been kept from them. The descriptions of the various settings were inspiring. I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley and the publisher and this is my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Such a fun complex story about mothers and daughters. This was a book about family, secrets, and Figuring out who you really are. Trenched in the Filipino culture and landscape, I learned so much about this culture I really knew very little about. I love the mother daughter relationship. There is some romance in the story but it really was not the main focus, there really was just so much more to the story.
Was this review helpful?
Tif Marcelo offers a story that focuses on family and relationships. Dianna has a strong relationship with her mother until a family secret is uncovered.  Tif Marcelo explores a few of her characters' thoughts, feelings and relationships with others throughout this heartwarming story.  I found myself imvested in both Dianna and her mother's stories throughout Once Upon a Sunset.
Was this review helpful?
Tif Marcelo, the author of ‘The Key to Happily Ever After’ returns with a heartwarming and charming novel about Diana, an OB/GYN physician whose life is disrupted - first by a decision she made professionally against the hospital administration, then a recent break up from a long term boyfriend, her mother Margo moving in, then finally a recent shocking discovery of love letters found after her grandmother’s death.

The letters were from Antonio Cruz, her grandfather written in the 1940’s whom they were told had died during WWII - however, the dates in those letters proved otherwise. Taking a short sabbatical from the hospital, she travels to the Philippines to discover and learn about her living relatives. In the journey to the islands, she discovers much more than a new found family... 

In Tif Marcelo’s signature style incorporating the intricate relationships of family, relationships, food and love, I was transported not only in time of a long lost true love, but also to the bustling sights and sounds of Metro Manila and the beautiful sunsets I have longed for that brought me back to a simpler time. 

Part historical fiction and part literary and women’s fiction, Marcelo delivered a highly personal story inspired by her own grandfather. Also mentioned in this story were the Filipino Farm workers in Central California as well as the Fist and Second Filipino Infantry Regiments of the US Army.
Was this review helpful?
A mother and daughter, brought together by life's circumstances, discover a family secret from the past that changes everything they thought they knew. Diana works as an OB-GYN and has invited her mother Margo to move in with her. Margo, while unpacking boxes, discovers correspondence that illuminates the fate of her grandfather. Rather than dying in World War II, he wound up in the Philippines and never came home. Determined to find out the truth and discover more about their family, mother and daughter set out on an international journey and get more than they dared hope for.

Tif Marcelo has given us a story of long lost family that touches the heart and warms the soul. I liked how the story stretched across continental boundaries, and the prominent themes of second chances and forgiveness. If you are looking for a good mother-daughter story that asks them to step outside their comfort zone to learn more about a secret past, Once Upon a Sunset is just what you need.

4.5 ⭐
Was this review helpful?
Diane learns that the story she was told about her grandfather was just that.  She travels to the Philippines to discover the truth.  While there she discovers relatives, love and her true self.
Was this review helpful?
I love Tif Marcelo and I loved her last book, but unfortunately for me, this was a DNF for me. I couldn't get pulled into it the way I usually am. I had to stop about 25% of the way through.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

This was a decent if not world-shaking read. Washington D.C. ob doc Diana is at a personal crossroads. She has gotten sideways with the posh clinic where she works for having the temerity to put patient needs before profits. And her boyfriend is trying to win her back after two-timing her and she is not interested. To top things off, her somewhat bohemian mother has moved in with her.

As her mother Margo prepares to take off on a bucket list trip with friends, Diana finds some old family letters that hold a shocking secret -- her mother's father, always believed to be a WWII casualty, actually survived the war and started a second family in the Philippines -- even though he knew her grandmother was stranded single and pregnant.

Through a series of plotting unlikelihoods, Diana and Margo both end up in the Philippines and meet their grandfather's wife and their cousins and nieces and nephews. Here's where it got dicey for me. I was never entirely convinced that this second family would welcome interlopers with open arms, particularly since there was a will and a large amount of property and money involved. And maybe they are all just superior human beings, but there was very little resentment, bitterness, jealousy or even awkwardness. Really?  The ending wrapped things up quickly and too neatly given that there not just one but two romances between two people who are destined to live thousands of miles apart.

Not a bad read, but didn't hold up well in terms of credibility. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Once Upon a Sunset is a beautifully written story of a mother and daughter, Margo & Diana.
These two are as opposite as you can get. An unexpected trip to the Philippines sets the scene for a poignant story about family , their secrets, heartaches, heartaches and starting over and even when it is time to let go. 

This story was well written with complex fleshed out characters. 

Tif Marcelo is quickly becoming one of my go to authors for women's fiction.
Was this review helpful?