BKMT READING GUIDES

Goodbye Again (Wyndham Beach)
by Mariah Stewart

Published: 2022-02-08T00:0
Paperback : 379 pages
0 members reading this now
0 club reading this now
0 members have read this book
“Stewart’s simple, engrossing prose conjures believable characters…The strength of the female friendships especially shines through, bolstering the love story. Readers will be eager for more.” --Publishers ...
No other editions available.
Add to Club Selections
Add to Possible Club Selections
Add to My Personal Queue
Jump to

Introduction

“Stewart’s simple, engrossing prose conjures believable characters…The strength of the female friendships especially shines through, bolstering the love story. Readers will be eager for more.” --Publishers Weekly

Editorial Review

No Editorial Review Currently Available

Excerpt

Prologue

On the day she turned sixteen – when she was still Lydia Hess, the Bryant still seven years into her future – Liddy thought she knew how it was all going to shake out. She and her two besties – Emma Harper and Maggie Lloyd – would finish college and return to their hometown, Wyndham Beach on the shores of Massachusetts, to live their happy-ever-afters with the to-be-determined loves of their lives and raise their families. Maggie, of course, would marry Brett, her high school love, but wouldn’t move back home until his professional football career was over (no one in the entire states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island doubted Brett Crawford would be drafted by a pro team but they all, naturally, prayed he’d go to the Patriots). The three of them – Liddy, Emma, and Maggie – would always be best friends and their children would play (and be bffs too). They’d live out their best lives together, grow old together, and together support each other in whatever life might throw their way.

At fifty-nine, Liddy was in turns amused and chagrined by her younger self’s naivete when she considered her bold predictions hadn’t even been half right once it was all added up.

Liddy and Emma did return to Wyndham Beach after college graduation (University of Rhode Island and Smith, respectively), Liddy to marry Jim Bryant, son of the town’s most successful insurance agent who had the policies for all the local properties, autos, and businesses locked up. Emma had married Harry Dean, who was older by thirteen years and the son of the president of the First National Bank of Wyndham Beach (and destined to follow in his grandfather’s and his father’s footsteps to the bank’s big corner office). Maggie had strayed most from the script, having (shock!) broken up with Brett after his second season with the Seattle Seahawks and instead of coming home – where Liddy and Emma could have supported her through whatever heartbreak she must have been enduring, had she taken them into her confidence, which inexplicably she had not. Maggie had stunned everyone by up and moving to Philadelphia, where, two years later, she married Art Flynn, a Philly lawyer, and settled into a life that had been step one in totally blowing up Liddy’s life plan.

Maggie had lived happily on Philadelphia’s Main Line, raising her two daughters and teaching in the private school they attended. Grace, her older daughter, had gone to law school and joined her father’s firm, Flynn Law, after passing the bar. She married the man she’d thought was her one true love but that hadn’t worked out so well. Natalie, the younger of Maggie’s daughters, taught English at a community college in a Philly suburb and was the single mother of four-year-old Daisy. Both Maggie’s girls had made some questionable decisions over the past few years – mostly where men were concerned - but then again, Liddy conceded, who hadn’t? Two years ago, Art died from a cancer diagnosed only months before his death, and Maggie’s seemingly happy life had come to a screeching halt.

Emma and Harry had one son – Christopher - who’d been a joy to her but a source of contention to Harry from the day the boy discovered music. Harry’s vision for their son’s future had Chris following in his footsteps straight to Harvard and eventually to the office of the president of the bank, but once he learned how to play the guitar, it was all over. Chris set his sights on becoming a rock star, and that’s exactly what he did, becoming the international voice and face of DEAN, the band he’d formed in college. Eight years ago, Harry had a sudden heart attack and died without ever reconciling with his son. Since then, Chris and his wildly successful band had traveled around the world several times, leaving little time for trips home to visit his lonely mother. So much for Em’s happy ending.

Liddy’s blueprint for her own future hadn’t quite held up, either. She and Jim had bought the house his great-grandfather had built, and they’d planned on renovating and filling with children. After years where she’d suffered a series of miscarriages and a stillborn son, Liddy had become mother to a healthy baby girl, Jessica, who’d been the center of Liddy’s and Jim’s universe from the moment of her birth. If they’d been a bit overly protective, it was understandable. Jessie had grown into a remarkable young woman, kind and beautiful and blessed with amazing artistic talents, and who, at thirty-two, with no apparent warning, took her life. A year to the day later, Jim left Liddy, and the collapse of Liddy’s world was complete.

So much for happy-ever-after.

Chapter One

Every morning upon waking, Liddy’s first thought was of her daughter, and the choice she’d made to end her life without ever confiding in her mother there was something drastically, fatally wrong in her life. Three years after the fact, Liddy was still searching for answers.

In the solitude of her quiet house, Liddy spoke aloud to Jessie several times over the course of every day. Sometimes it might be merely a quick, “Morning, sweetie.” Other days it might be a little more complex, like when Liddy wanted to buy the town’s only bookstore from its retiring owner. She’d gone over all the pros and cons with both her lawyer and her accountant, then later, at home, with Jess. In the end, remembering how her daughter had loved going to the shop and searching for the perfect book, Liddy followed her heart and signed the papers, taking possession of the building and jumping in with both feet. If nothing else, the prospect of turning the closed, run-down bookstore into a lively, thriving business put new bounce in Liddy’s step and lent new purpose to her days.

As she walked toward the center of Wyndham Beach on a late summer morning, the chorus of the last song she heard before she left the house still playing in her head (Sting’s Fields of Gold), Liddy mentally ran through the day’s agenda: remove all the books from their cases and box them up, then move all the bookcases to the center of the shop so the walls could be painted. The floors needed refinishing, but she had no idea how that could be accomplished given the limitations of the shop itself. Where would everything go while the work was being done? She’d have help with the packing up of the books and the painting, but still, the logistics of it all were daunting. There was much more on the overall list for the shop’s renovation but if she thought about the work in its entirety, she’d exhaust herself. Probably pass out from the stress right there on Front Street. People coming into town to shop or mail letters or meet friends for breakfast would step over or walk around her prone body. She could hear them complaining about her lack of consideration: “Hmmph. You’d think Liddy’d at least have had the courtesy to pass out on the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street instead of right in the damned middle of everything.”

Amused, Liddy smiled as she pushed open the door of Ground Me, the local coffee shop boasting the best brew in town, a claim not unfounded. Liddy waved to Brett Crawford, the chief of police and Maggie’s once and present love. He was deep in conversation with two members of the town council (what was that all about?) and his wave was uncharacteristically perfunctory.

“Good morning, Miss Lydia.” The young man behind the counter greeted her with a winsome smile. Blond surfer-boy hair flopped onto his forehead as he pushed up the sleeves of his light blue button-down shirt, which, along with khaki shorts, comprised the shop’s preppy uniform. “What will it be today? The usual, or shall we walk on the wild side?” He leaned closer and lowered his voice. “I could fix you a large dark roast latte with extra cream and sugar. Top it with whipped cream and a touch of caramel.” He wiggled his eyebrows.

Liddy laughed. “Get thee behind me, Satan. I’m sticking with the same old, same old, but thanks for asking.”

“You got it.” He turned to prepare her coffee and she tried to remember his name. He was the grandson of someone in town, but she couldn’t remember who. When her drink was ready, he handed over her order. “So it’s my last week here before I go back to school. You gonna miss me?”

“Of course I will.” She smiled as his name bounced back into her head. “Remind me what college you go to, Ryan.”

“University of Connecticut,” he replied.

“Oh, right. Well, good luck this year. Come see us over your winter break.” She paid for her coffee and winked as she turned to leave. “Go Huskies.”

Once outside, Liddy stopped on the sidewalk to take a few sips of her coffee. Regular medium blend. Half and half. One artificial sweetener. “Perfect, as always,” she murmured. “I will definitely miss that boy.”

The light was green at the three-way corner where Front, Church, and Cottage Streets merged, so she hustled across toward her destination. It was a perfect end-of-summer morning, sunny but cool with the promise of a decent beach day that afternoon. She knew crisper weather was ahead, and for a moment, wished she could take the day off. Just this one before the days grew shorter and cooler and there’d be no more hours spent lounging on the beach until next year. But her to-do list was endless and if she wanted to open the new and improved bookshop by the time Alden Academy - the private school that stretched along the harbor - reopened for the fall term, she had to use every day to the maximum. She wanted to bring the shop back from its current state: dusty, dingy, poorly organized, and pretty much forgotten by everyone except the old-time residents of Wyndham Beach. Her goal to open was the first week of September, and that date was just around the corner. Before she knew it, it would be Labor Day, and the next day cars would be pouring into town from all over New England to drop off the sons of the families who could afford the steep costs associated with a toney prep school like Alden.

Liddy unlocked the door to her shop, pausing to catch a quick glimpse of her reflection in the front bay window. She was a tall woman who carried a few extra pounds on her large-boned frame. Her salt and pepper hair hung over her left shoulder in one big, fat, long braid. She’d be hard pressed to deny her age though the lines on her face weren’t that bad and her wide-set eyes were still crystal blue. She wore old bright yellow J.Crew rubber flip-flops, a faded light blue t-shirt with URI in honor of her alma mater in white on the front, and a pair of olive-green cargo pants which she’d bought online months ago. Once they arrived, she decided something even remotely modern, and trendy didn’t suit her usual style (most days that being aging flower child) and meant to send them back. But the pants slated for return were forgotten in the midst of the hullabaloo over the summer with Maggie moving back to Wyndham Beach and discovering the reason Maggie hadn’t married Brett all those years ago (oh, the deliciousness of the drama!). Since Liddy was stuck with the pants, they became an integral part of her gardening, cleaning, painting, all things messy go-to outfit.

Once inside, she turned on the overhead lights. They were neon and harsh, but there wasn’t much she could do about them just yet. They’d be replaced as soon as she could afford it. She’d called for an electrical contractor to give her an estimate and was assured he’d have that to her by the end of the week. Earlier in the week she’d pulled down the front window shade and had decided to leave it down. The natural light would be lovely and welcomed, but no need to let the entire town know what she was doing until she was ready to show them.

For a very long moment, she stood at the front of the store, remembering a time when trips to this shop had been so routine, she’d barely registered their importance. Now she lamented the loss of the beauty of those long ago days, when she walked from their home, Jessie’s hand in hers, her daughter chatting endlessly about whatever popped into her mind, Liddy barely registering half of what Jess was saying. How many times had she replayed an argument with Jim or the plot of the previous night’s favorite TV show in her head while Jessie had been sharing a story she was making up as they ambled along? The memory turned Liddy cold inside. She’d give her life for one more morning walk with her child.

She could almost see an enthralled Jessie sitting on the story rug in the children’s section at the back of the store, eyes wide as she listened to an animated Alma Jo Lattimore, the late wife of the previous owner, read aloud at Tuesday morning story hours. Liddy closed her eyes, and for a brief flicker in time, Jessie was running to her, face shining, clutching the book she’d desperately wanted. All those books purchased over the years remained in the bedroom of Jess’s apartment in the carriage house behind Liddy’s home, the old structure she and Jim had renovated to give their daughter a place of her own. As a struggling artist, she couldn’t afford to rent an apartment but needed space where she could live and work with some degree of privacy. Jessie had created her best work in her three years there, work she’d stock-piled without having shared with anyone. Neither her boyfriend nor her parents had seen her most recent paintings that, in retrospect, gave hints of the pain she’d been hiding from everyone.

Liddy blinked away the memory and tucked it back into the corner of her heart where she kept such things, and forced her feet to move. She had plenty of time to look back when she was home alone, but right at that moment, there was work to do.

She dropped her handbag on the counter next to the ancient cash register, a beautiful relic from another time: a bright red 1950 National Cash with the Coca Cola logo above the keys. Carl Lattimore, the son of the previous owner, assured her it still worked, but admitted his father had used a five- year-old Casio for all transactions in the store. She still hadn’t decided what to do with it.

Liddy patted the vintage machine as she walked past. It had long-since been dubbed Big Red and she was surprised Fred Lattimore, who’d owned the shop for as long as Liddy could remember, didn’t take it with him.

“I thought about it bringing it home,” Carl had told her. “But I’m afraid seeing it will remind my dad of the bookstore, and he’d take off thinking he needed to go in to work. Alzheimer’s is a terrible thing, Liddy. The register needs to stay in the shop. Everyone in town knows Big Red.”

So for now, the antique remained on the counter which itself showed its age.

“Yeah, well, showing one’s age isn’t a crime,” she muttered as she looked around, feeling overwhelmed, not for the first time in the course of the store’s renovation.

She’d been as aware as the next person the town’s only bookshop had room for improvement. Lots of improvement, from its physical appearance to the selection of books it offered and the way they were displayed. Fred Lattimore’s decline had begun sooner than any of his store’s patrons had realized. Of course, they knew he sometimes – okay, frequently – forgot to order the latest books from their publishers, which meant if you were really craving that new tell-all autobiography or women’s fiction or thriller, you had to drive to New Bedford to a bricks and mortar store or order online. Once inside Fred’s store, the books had been arranged with seemingly no thought to how customers might find them. His random shelving made locating a particular title somewhat of a scavenger hunt. There were those in town who were growing tired of trying to think like Fred. Of course, older residents forgave him his idiosyncrasies – “Oh, that’s just Fred’s way.” – but more often than not, over the past two years, even Liddy (who thought she’d cracked Fred’s shelving code) had often left without a book in her hands.

The profit and loss statement Fred’s accountants had given her told a grim tale of no profit and much loss. Even Liddy’s accountant had advised against her purchasing the business, pointing out she had no business experience herself.

“But I have common sense,” she’d told him. “And I’ve been a reader all my life. I know books, and I know what people want in a bookstore because they’re the same things I want. The same things my bookstore will have.”

He’d shrugged and gave Liddy his blessing and reminded her he was there to help when she needed to bail out. She’d thanked him with a tight smile on her face and a promise to herself there’d be no bailing.

Liddy reminded herself of that conversation as she took in the scene before her. Books piled on the floor, walls that hadn’t been painted since the nineteen sixties, and area rugs buckled and bearing the scent and scars of countless pairs of muddy feet.

In her mind’s eye she knew exactly how she wanted the store to look, and how she was going to run it, and don’t get in her way.

She paused and looked around at the chaos surrounding her. “It’s going to be great when it’s finished, Jess,” she said softly. “You’re going to love it.” view abbreviated excerpt only...

Discussion Questions

No discussion questions at this time.

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
There are no user reviews at this time.
Rate this book
MEMBER LOGIN
Remember me
BECOME A MEMBER it's free

Now serving over 80,000 book clubs & ready to welcome yours. Join us and get the Top Book Club Picks of 2022 (so far).

SEARCH OUR READING GUIDES Search
Search


FEATURED EVENTS
PAST AUTHOR CHATS
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

Get free weekly updates on top club picks, book giveaways, author events and more
Please wait...