As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins is a story that takes place in two time periods. In 2018 you meet Peyton and Brooke. Peyton is close to wanting a divorce. So close that she has a divorce lawyer’s business card. Brooke is younger and not serious enough for Peyton. They are at the point in their relationship where all Peyton can see are problems and all the reasons why her and Brooke shouldn’t be together anymore.
When Brooke inherits a derelict house from her aunt she drags Peyton into doing renovations. Peyton wants to unload the property and not have to worry about replacing so many walls and floors in the house. But she reluctantly agrees and they begin renovations. When they remove one of the walls they discover a box of letters and a journal written by Marty, Brooke’s aunt.
Peyton is inexplicably drawn to the diary and letters that tell the story of Marty and the love of her life, Vera.
As they read the 70 year old documents we go back in time to 1939 and unveil Marty’s story.
Marty has never been attracted to men and on a trip to the circus she meets a woman like no one she has ever met before. The attraction is instant but the romance is slow. When WWII breaks out Marty’s world is thrust in a direction that she didn’t see coming.
Add an escapee elephant, a mother who keeps pushing Marty to make a good match and get married and you have two intertwined stories that will make you believe in love.
Hawkins did some interesting things to me in this book. I started off disliking Peyton and Brooke but the storyline with Marty and Vera was so captivating that I kept reading and by the end of the story I had changed my mind about Peyton and Brooke.
Jea Hawkins did a great job of creating subtleties in each of the characters so that they become like friends.
The Writing Style
I was surprised by the story. It didn’t go where I expected it to and I was glad that I read to the end. Having said that, this book brings out mixed emotions in me:
SPOILER – the story that I was hoping would have a happy ending didn’t but the other one did. So it kind of balanced out but left me sad.
The writing itself was good and I was pulled into the story quite effortlessly.
You won’t read a story like this again. It was a completely unique, gentle and memorable book.
The historical research was good and I enjoyed the way the dual stories unfolded.
I also loved the way Vera and Marty met. That was completely adorable (and I included some of it as an excerpt below).
I didn’t have any real cons.
As Long As Love Lasts was unexpected and while it did leave me feeling sad because of some of the events, it also left me hopeful that Peyton would find her joy.
If you enjoy books that are closer to mimicking life and like to read real stories of people who could have existed then this is a great book for you.
Excerpt from As Long As Love Lasts by Jea Hawkins
Cripes, that was a person in the white tank top, gray slacks with drooping suspenders, grungy from head to toe, and sweat pouring off their body. But they couldn’t possibly be what Marty thought they were…
The slender form twisted to pick up shovelfuls of – Marty wrinkled her nose –dung and deposited it outside the pen. Another step forward and she saw that the outline of breasts against the shirt was unmistakable. How could this be? The figure was boyish, but there was no missing the gentle swell of those feminine assets on top.
Marty blinked and averted her gaze, as she tried to ignore the rush of breath she’d sucked in. Women were the attractions in the circus, not laborers who shoveled animal waste.
“Excuse me!” Marty couldn’t help herself. She continued forward, white-gloved hand lifted in that very same manner she used when calling to Dorothy, Helen, and her other lady friends from across the street in town.
The worker barely spared her a glance. But soon, Marty was standing next to her, watching her labor.
“Pardon me, I don’t mean to be rude, but is this allowed?”
The woman squinted at her, a newsboy cap shading her eyes. Eyes that were a startling shade of green. “Keeping the elephant pen clean? I’d say it’s allowed, yeah.” The nonchalant way she responded, as if the odor of piles of waste on a hot day didn’t bother her, left Marty staring at the woman.
“No, no.” Marty shook her head, bobbed blonde pin curls bouncing at her ears. “A woman laboring among the men. There must be laws about…” Her gaze raked the revealing attire. “Decency,” she concluded.
“Never known a ringmaster to care about gender, let alone decency. As long as the job gets done, what does it matter?”
Considering the way the woman talked, it sounded like she didn’t mind, either.
Before Marty could question her, the woman embedded the head of the shovel in the hard earth, folded her arms over the top of the handle, and tilted her head.
Now Marty could see strands of straight, brown hair peeking out from beneath the cap as the woman grinned at her. For being a guest at the circus, Marty suddenly felt as if she were in the spotlight. The skin along her arms tingled and she told herself it was merely the heat radiating from the sun that made her react that way.
“If you’ve come to save our souls,” the laborer said, apparently still unruffled, “then you’re in the wrong place.”
“I… Why would you…” Why the words flustered her, Marty didn’t know. Maybe because religion was the furthest thing from her mind. Like most people in the region, she was a Protestant in name and nothing more than that. All her questions came from a far more practical place.
She was being practical, right?
The woman inclined her head and said, voice as calm as ever, “You’re standing in elephant dung, lady.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781723235504
- Publisher: Indie author
Jea Hawkins Online
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