Title: Only One Life
Author: Ashley Farley
Publisher: Union Publishing
Release Date: April 2019
Length: 289 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Julia Martin grew up wealthy, but it wasn’t until she met her husband, Jack, that she knew true happiness. He made her feel worthy and loved. Their marriage was also an escape from her sister’s bullying, her father’s scrutiny, and her chilly and enigmatic mother. But when tragedy strikes on the night she gives birth, Julia’s happiness is shattered. She has no choice but to return home to her family’s South Carolina mansion, where the grief and guilt buried in her mother’s past await her.
As a young woman trapped in a bitter marriage, Julia’s mother, Iris, once needed her own means of escape. In Lily, she found a best friend. In the flower shop they opened, she discovered independence. Then came a transgression—unforgivable, unforgettable, and unresolved—that changed Iris’s life forever.
Now, in Iris’s most desperate hour, her only hope is to regain the trust of the daughter she loves—and to share the secrets of the heart that could rebuild a family’s broken bonds.
I tend to enjoy books that are set in the South. I did enjoy some parts of this book, but overall it just didn’t do it for me. There was something with the writing right from the start that annoyed me.
We learn that Julia and Jack Martin are waiting for their baby’s birth. There have been pregnancy issues in the past, so they are excited but nervous. Julia came from money but still had an unhappy childhood, and has been estranged from her family since she married Jack. It’s a very different life now – they are happy, but struggle hard with finances.
But things aren’t going to remain happy or simple for Julia.
Eventually, she must return to her childhood home, her parents, and sister. Julia tries to mend the broken relationship with her mother, Iris. While it does take time, there are some breakthroughs with her mother. The book does travel back in time for both Julia and her mother. However, her sister is just as much the bully now as she was then, if not even more. There is no reconciling with her father.
Despite growing bonds and reconciliation, I could not stand any of Julia’s family. I hated what happened surrounding her labor and birth of her baby. It forced her into only one choice. Did I say I hated her family? I mean, like, a lot.
One thing that really rubbed me wrong was the way mental illness was presented, portrayed, and “cured” in the book. That last bit isn’t reality. It’s not easy to get better. That’s not how it works.