Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Blog Tour: Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan [+ Excerpt]

Review copy. 
Amazon UK link (*) is an affiliate.


Today I am honoured to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan. You'll find an excerpt at the end of the post, thanks to Graydon House.

"Lady Sunshine" is the nickname given to our protagonist, Jackie Pierce, by her musician Uncle Graham in 1979. The book flits between 1999, when Jackie is given the task of dealing with Graham's estate after she inherits it, and 1979 - the Summer that changed everything. 

The sprawling estate in California was home to Graham, his wife Angela, and their daughter Willa. Jackie is sent there for the Summer when she's seventeen, and after a shaky start, her and Willa forge an incredibly close bond. In the present, Willa doesn't seem to be in the picture at all, so what happened? Jackie is busy packing up the estate for sale, but a promise was made to a group of musicians to allow them record there one last time. The music brings back a lot of memories for Jackie, could this finally give her some closure and help her move on from the events of that Summer? 

This has (and will be) compared to Daisy Jones and the Six and I don't entirely disagree - it has that same lazy, hazy seventies vibe and the musical element does play a part - but that's where the similarities end. This book is a look at friendships, families and forgiveness. I really loved this book. I think it's definitely one of my favourites this year and I would highly recommend it as a good Summer read. It's lovely. 

Lady Sunshine will be published on June 29th and will be available from all good bookshops, your local library, and at the links below.

Kindle US | UK*

You can keep up to date with the author on her website, or on her socials - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest


A Girl, Her Cousin and a Waterfall
I rattle the padlock on the gate, strum my fingers along the cold chain-link fence.
I own this place.
Maybe if I repeat it often enough I'll believe it.
All along the base of the fence are tributes: shells, notes, sketches, bunches of flowers. Some still fresh, some so old the petals are crisp as parchment. I follow the fence uphill, along the coast side, and stop at a wooden, waist-high sign marking the path up to the waterfall. It wasn't here the summer I visited.
The sign is covered in words and drawings, so tattooed-over by fan messages that you can barely read the official one. I run my fingertips over the engravings: initials, peace symbols, Thank you's, I Love You's. Fragments of favorite lyrics. After coming so far to visit the legendary estate, people need to do something, leave their mark, if only with a rock on fog-softened wood.
Song titles from my uncle's final album, Three, are carved everywhere. "Heart, Home, Hope."
"Leaf, Shell, Raindrop."
"Angel, Lion, Willow." Someone has etched that last one in symbols instead of words. The angel refers to Angela, my aunt. The lion is my uncle Graham. 
And the willow tree. Willa, my cousin.
I have a pointy metal travel nail file in my suitcase; I could add my message to the rest, my own tribute to this place, to the Kingstons. To try to explain what happened the summer I spent here. I could tell it like one of the campfire tales I used to spin for Willa.
This is the story of a girl, her cousin, and a waterfall...
But there's no time for that, not with only seven days to clear the house for sale. Back at the gate, where Toby's asleep in his cat carrier in the shade, I dig in my overnight bag for the keys. They came in a FedEx with a fat stack of documents I must've read on the plane from Boston a dozen times - thousands of words, all dressed up in legal jargon. When it's so simple, really. Everything inside that fence is mine now, whether I want it or not.
I unlock the gate, lift the metal shackle, and walk uphill to the highest point, where the gravel widens into a parking lot, then fades away into grass. The field opens out below me just like I remember. We called it "the bowl," because of the way the edges curve up all around it. A golden bowl scooped into the hills, rimmed on three sides by dark green woods. The house, a quarter mile ahead of me at the top of the far slope, is a pale smudge in the fir trees.
I stop to take it in, this piece of land I now own. The Sandcastle, everyone called it.
Without the neighbours' goats and Graham's guests to keep the grass down, the field has grown wild, many of the yellow weeds high as my belly button.
Willa stood here with me once and showed me how from this angle the estate resembled a sun. The kind a child would draw, with a happy face inside. Once I saw it, it was impossible to un-see:
The round, straw-colored field, trails squiggling off to the woods in every direction, like rays. The left eye - the campfire circle. The right eye - the blue aboveground pool. The nose was the vertical line of picnic benches in the middle of the circle that served as our communal outdoor dining table. The smile was the curving line of parked cars and motorcycles and campers.
All that's gone now, save for the pool, which is squinting, collapsed, moldy green instead of its old bright blue.
I should go back for my bag and Toby but I can't resist - I move on, down to the center of the field. Far to my right in the woods, the brown roofline of the biggest A-frame cabin, Kingfisher, pokes through the firs. But no other cabins are visible, the foliage is so thick now. Good. Each alteration from the place of my memories gives me confidence. I can handle this for a week. One peaceful, private week to box things up and send them away.
"Sure you don't want me to come help?" Paul had asked when he dropped me to the airport this morning. "We could squeeze in a romantic weekend somewhere. I've always wanted to go to San Francisco."
"You have summer school classes, remember? Anyway, it'll be totally boring, believe me."
I'd told him - earnest, sweet Paul, who all the sixth-graders at the elementary school where we work hope they get as their teacher and who wants to marry me - that the trip was no big deal. That I'd be away for a week because my aunt in California passed away. That I barely knew her and just had to help pack up her old place to get it ready for sale.
He believed me.
I didn't tell him that the "old place" is a stunning, sprawling property perched over the Pacific, studded with cabins and outbuildings and a legendary basement recording studio. That the land bubbles with natural hot springs and creeks and waterfalls.
Or that I've inherited it. All of it. The fields, the woods, the house, the studio. And my uncle's music catalog.
I didn't tell him that I visited here once as a teenager, or that for a little while, a long time ago, I was sure I'd stay forever.

Excerpted from Lady Sunshine © 2021 by Amy Mason Doan, used with permission by Graydon House.

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