Book Review: Once Upon a Sunset by Tif Marcelo

March 11, 2021 – Sarah Vohsen, Adult Services

This column was first published in the February 2021 issue of The Best Years (TBY).

Diana’s life feels a bit off-kilter now that she’s ended her long-term relationship and lost her grandmother. However, she is determined to take everything in stride. For Diana, this means ignoring her troubles by working as much as possible. But, when Diana breaks the hospital’s rules to save her patient, her actions stir up backlash from the public and dissent from management. Now she is stuck on an unwanted sabbatical and must face the problems she can no longer ignore.

Diana decides to put her life back together, but this becomes more difficult when she and her mother, Margo, find a box of letters in her grandmother’s things. Although Diana believes her grandfather died in World War II, these letters hint that the story her grandmother told her might not be true. With the possibility of the truth waiting in the Philippines, Diana rushes off to find the family she never knew existed, despite Margo’s fear of dredging up the past and her unwillingness to go with Diana on this impromptu trip.

Tif Marcelo’s Once Upon a Sunset has very strong female characters, and since it follows both Margo and Diana’s lives, it shows how the discovery of the letters and Diana’s trip affect the mother-daughter relationship featured in the story. This novel wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was fun to read. This book was a bit long, with around 350 pages, but it was easy to get through. I would recommend this for someone who likes romance or heartwarming books about strong female characters.

This book is similar to The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice, which is about Julia, a woman who watches a house in Malibu as she deals with the loss of her child. She becomes interested in the overseer of a lemon orchard. In My Name is Lucy Barton, Lucy has her appendix removed and begins to get closer to her estranged mother during her long hospital stay. The Cape Girardeau Public Library has Once Upon a Sunset as both a book and an e-audiobook. The others are both available in book and e-book format.


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