Title: The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (60s), Women’s Fiction
Length: 346 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A community’s past sins rise to the surface in New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s The Last House on the Street when two women, a generation apart, find themselves bound by tragedy and an unsolved, decades-old mystery.
Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.
Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.
Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.
The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain is a captivating dual storyline novel set in rural North Carolina.
In 2010, Kayla Carter and her young daughter Rainie are preparing to move into their new home. The move is bittersweet due to the accidental death of Kayla’s husband, Jackson. They designed the house together and she is not looking forward to living in such a secluded area. Kayla’s uneasiness is compounded by the troubling visit by a mysterious woman who knows too much about her family. When frightening occurrences continue at the house, Kayla discovers shocking details about the history of her new property.
In 1965, twenty-year-old university student Ellie Hockley becomes a civil rights activist who is helping Black residents in the South register to vote. She is assigned close to home and she finally becomes cognizant of the poverty and racism she has not noticed until now. Ellie is compassionate and cares deeply about the people she is trying to assist exercise their civil rights. Because of her activism, she is becoming estranged from her parents and brother, Buddy. Her family is concerned about her welfare, but Ellie is passionate about the work is doing.
In 2010, the women’s lives unexpectedly intersect when Kayla moves into her new home. The Hockley family still lives in their farmhouse which is close to Kayla’s property and the new subdivision. Ellie is caring for Buddy as his health continues to deteriorate. Her mom is also currently living with them although she and Ellie do not get along. As Kayla and Ellie begin to get to know one another, long buried secrets and the town’s appalling history will soon be unearthed.
The Last House on the Street is a compelling novel that highlights the tumultuous civil rights movement. Kayla and Ellie are wonderfully drawn characters that are very relatable. The dual times lines are absolutely fascinating and come together in a very shocking denouement. Ellie’s work with registering voters becomes increasingly dangerous as the local KKK ratchets up their effort to drive out the civil rights activists. Kayla’s grief is still fresh and she is worried about her and Rainie’s safety. With jaw-dropping plot twists, Diane Chamberlain brings this mesmerizing novel to an unanticipated conclusion.