Monday, July 21, 2014

A Great Personal Mystery--Searching for Your Mother's Youth! Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman...Added to My Personal 2014 Favorites!

Town Reappeared in Georgia During 2007 Drought...
Elliott's eyebrows were furrowed together as if he was struggling to ask  a delicate question. "Where exactly in Huntley did she want to be...put to rest?" I noticed that people didn't like to use the words "scattered" or "sprinkled" when talking about human remains. But there was really no other good description.
"She requested that half be put over a grave in the cemetery; we're thinking that's probably her parents, and the other half in Lake Huntley"
And all you know is that she's from Huntley?"
I nodded. 
"So not Tillman? I mean you're here, in Tillman," His voice had gotten very quiet.
"No, it was definitely Huntley. But this is the biggest town in Huntley County so I figured this was the best place to start?
Elliott turned his whole body toward me, getting my full attention. "Olivia, how much do you know about Lake Huntley?"
I shrugged, "Nothing really. Why?
"Well, it's just that...Where do I start? First of all, there are no natural lakes in Georgia. None of any size anyway. All of these lakes were created by dams. You know, for power production or reservoirs. Especially as the population grew after the war. They would dam up a river and create the lakes. Like this one. This lake was built in the nineteen sixties by the TVA, and sometimes, when creating these lakes, property got flooded. This is one of those lakes. Lake Huntley actually has a whole flooded town underneath it.
I pulled my feet out of the water, suddenly feeling terrified of what could be underneath me floating just out of reach...

Elliott put his hand on mine, the way someone would when preparing to deliver bad news. "The town of Huntley, Georgia, was flooded when they built the lake. It's not here anymore. It's under there." He pointed to the water...

Cancel the Wedding
By Carolyn T. Digman

Children are born into a nuclear family which becomes their total support for love. But when a member of that family is no longer there, it must result in an emptiness, an awareness of change that shouldn't have happened. We all feel it, especially, when our parents die. Time had past and her father had also died. But one final thing needed to be done per their mother's request...

Her mother had asked that her two daughters, together, scatter her ashes in two different places in Huntley, Georgia. Both were surprised and dismayed. They knew she had been from Georgia, but as far as they were aware, she had never returned. Why would she want to go back to her home town now?
A mere twenty-four hours after jumping up at
dinner and surprising myself by announcing
this litt e road trip, Logan and I were taking the
exit to Tillman, Georgia.
Tillman was the largest town in Huntley County,
Georgia. Technically it was the only town in
Huntley County, Georgia. Our mother had told
us she grew up in Huntley, That was really all we
knew. I had every intention of finding out more.
Huntley County was tucked up in the norrhern
corner of Georgia and it was a nearly eleven-
hour drive from D.C.
When Logan volunteered to come with me,
I wasn't so sure I wanted a drama-filled
fourteen-year-old girl riding shotgun for my
sabbatical. But having her along for the ride
felt right, she was a good traveling partner
It had been a year and they still had not taken care of their mother's last wish. So, when Olivia's fiance announced, thinking it would be a great surprise--he had scheduled the church for their wedding--Olivia had panicked and decided that now was the time for her to head for Georgia... Her sister wasn't able to just take off, so her daughter Logan quite happily volunteered...
"There's the inn," Logan pointed to one of the largest
buildings facing the main square. The James Oglethorpe
Inn was a redbrick three-story building on the western edge of the square...I pulled up and a man, well actually a teenager, in an oversized valet jacket ran out to meet me as I opened the door.
"Good Evening Ma'am. Are you checking in?"
"Yes, I am. May I leave the car here while I register?" The boy didn't answer me, as he was very busy checking out Logan. With his mouth hanging open every so slightly, Logan was returning the favor.,,
Olivia had already been depressed--she hated her job, her boss...and she was beginning to have even more doubts about marrying Leo... The wedding had been cancelled because of the death in the family and little by little, they were spending more time and energy with their respective jobs than with each other. Leo had started talking about needing her to attend certain business meetings or events of the law firm where he was trying to move up. Olivia felt he was marrying to ensure he fit into the proper partnership mo--being married... Aside from the urgency in which she left, she really had been totally surprised when they had read her mother's short statement. If she had such strong ties to this place, why hadn't she ever talked about it... And had their father known what she wanted?

Very soon after arriving a young teenager had spotted Logan and quickly sought her out, much to Logan's liking. So when he suggested they sit by the lake in a private area the Inn used, they were grateful. Until Elliott showed up and led them through another story... Actually he was Graham's brother and also the town's newspaper owner. And, just like Graham, he quickly took a liking to Olivia. Even to the point that, he left for a few days  and finally got out of an earlier entanglement.
That was the time for Olivia to tell him about Leo, but she couldn't bring herself, especially since she hadn't settled things with him. Still, he may have admitted only to herself, but her decision to stay in Tillman, Georgia, was partly because of Elliott. While they had a rough beginning, they became closer and Olivia realized that she had never felt such joy, such a feeling of being alive, since she had met Elliott.

Plus Elliott was quite willing to help her with her investigation, claiming that it could lead to a story he could use...

Obviously, the first thing he had to share with her was that Huntley, Georgia, no longer existed! The town her mother had grown up in was not totally underwater... She had already left when they actually filled the lake. People who had to leave were even starting to claim that they had once lived in Atlantis! But for many, it was hard to realize that their home place was now underwater...

One lady in particular who was part of "The Society" of the town immediately had asked if Olivia was of the Hartley Rutledges... That her grandfather had been a prominent judged, that they had been major land holders in the area...and, that...her mother had once been married and had a child... Olivia had kept her sister Georgia up to date by phone...but when it was discovered that the girls had probably been named after twins that their mother Janie, had grown up with--George and Oliver--the mystery had become almost overwhelming

Plan on having a box of Kleenex handy... I realize that most of us know very little about their parents' early lives, but to learn that your mother had once had a totally different family. Well, that's not a small detail...right? On the other hand, there was at least one thing they did alike--Olivia learned that she had one left a note, Cancel the Wedding...

 Of course, you know to expect some type of climatic ending when Leo meets Eliott... But the story that most affected the sisters was, of course, about their mother and father...And Olivia refused to even consider leaving until she had discovered everything, including about what had happened to their former home and the lands that had once belonged to the Harley Rutledges...

Logan, who I forgot was even in the room with us, shouted, "Whoa!" I jumped awayfrom Elliott as he simultaneously slammed both of his hands on the table.
My heart was pounding as I looked at her and waited for her to fill us in on
whatever was so important that it ruined the little moment we were having. Or
maybe saved us from the moment we were having. I started chewing on my pen
again. "What Lo!"
She looked back and forth between Elliott and me. "I found an article about that floating church steeple and there's a picture of it in the lake.  You know, the haunted one. Guess where the church used to be." She looked back and forth between us again. I didn't really care where the church used to be. I wanted to know what Elliott was about to say to me. Logan read from the article, "On the disputed land between the Forrest property and Rutledge Ridge. That's us, right? Rutledge Ridge."

"I'm a lot of trouble, You may not want
to get stuck with me."
"That's where you're wrong. I do want
to get stuck with you..."
Carolyn Dingman might not have planned it visually like I have...but it seemed to me that Olivia had gotten right into the middle of a spider web and no matter which way she turned, the spider was spinning another way to keep her caught. She became so caught up in her mother's life that she was able to effectively ignore the one that had planned with Leo... And readers will understand that she felt she should talk to him personally...and that she should do that before she talked more with Elliott... I was impressed with what finally happened and that every single hanging thread of discovery was cleared up until Olivia was actually back to planning for her future!

I'm never quite sure why one book versus another strikes a cord with me...maybe in this case, it was different since I rarely read romance...and it really was the element of mystery that kept me enthralled.  I just had to add it to my top favorites for the year... It's intriguing, family oriented, yet, a very personal look at how human relationships get all twisted and caught with no seemingly easy way to get out of trouble. This is a double love story! And only Georgia and Olivia could complete the story for their mother... I loved this one!


Carolyn T. Dingman grew up as a nomadic military brat often making up stories that the adults referred to as “lies.” She is now a grown-up and hardly ever lies anymore unless she’s writing fiction where it is considered socially acceptable.

She attended Clemson University in South Carolina, which in no way prepared her for a career in writing, but it did inspire a good deal of the names used in her debut novel, CANCEL THE WEDDING (HarperCollins, Aug 5, 2014).

Carolyn lives in her adopted hometown of Atlanta with her husband and their two daughters. She volunteers too much, eats too much chocolate, and prefers beer over wine.

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