July 31, 2016
K. L. Romo

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Review of Novel: The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks

LemoncholyAnnabelle Aster, known as Annie, loves anything Victorian – vintage clothing, antique tea cups, hairstyles.  She even lives in a Victorian house.  Her best friend, Christian, loves her quirks and eccentricities, for he’s never fit society’s mold either. They seem to have been made for each other.

On May 17, 1995, Annie goes through her back door and is shocked to see a Kansas wheat field and cabin where her San Francisco neighborhood should have been.  As she marches to the house to investigate, she passes through a beautiful rose garden with a gate, separating her yard from the field, with an old brass mailbox peeking up through the flowers.  Annie is compelled to find out who lives in the cabin standing on the edge of the field. But when Annie tries to knock on the cabin door, she suddenly finds herself back at the mailbox.

On May 17, 1895, Elsbeth Grundy, a retired Kansas school-teacher, is just minding her own business, relaxing in her rocking chair, alone as always. She’d hoped to be surrounded with loving family in her older years, but that didn’t happen; she lives quite the solitary life out on the prairie. When Elsbeth makes her way to the well to draw water for her daily chores, she’s shocked to see a purple Victorian home sitting in the middle of her wheat field. She decides to give the owner of that house a piece of her mind, but when she tries to approach the porch, something strange happens. She finds herself back at the odd rose garden. She notices a brass letterbox sitting amid the roses, and decides to leave a letter for the owner of the purple house.

Lacking the disposition for subtlety, I’ll get directly to the point. Trespass is dealt with at the business end of a shotgun in these parts!

Annie and Elsbeth discover they can communicate by leaving each other letters in the mail box, and soon become friends. But Annie must figure out the mystery – how are she and Elsbeth sitting on either side of a rip in time?  After some investigation, Annie finally discovers the portal that allows her to see Elsbeth’s house, and Elsbeth to see hers. But her search also uncovers a murder which happened 100 years in the past, with their time-travel conduit at the center of it.  Annie and Elsbeth try to prevent the murder, but things get complicated, and both women must fight to save each other, and unravel the mysteries of Annie’s past.

There comes a moment, a precise instant, when your next move redefines you, erasing everything before it. You are a table upon which the future course of your life awaits instruction. This was Annie’s moment.

Wilbanks has seamlessly interwoven reality with mystery and magic. His characters are both quirky and endearing. His novel makes us consider the possibility of traveling to a different time, and connecting with our history.  What if we could meet the people who helped shape our lives? And Wilbanks reminds us that even with our eccentricities, our odd-ball moments, our unusual quirks, our differences, we all have a place that is truly home – where we truly belong.  Sometimes we just have to look harder to find it.

I recommend The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster to readers who love well written prose, excellent characterizations, and a unique story that forces the reader to ask what if?

You rock Annabelle Aster!

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