Author Suzanne Simonetti skillfully weaves through time in her debut novel, The Sound of Wings, to tell the story of three complex female characters. Widow Goldie Sparrows, newly married Jocelyn Anderson, and emotionally damaged Krystal Axelrod are the women whose lives cross in Cape May, NJ, a picturesque seaside town.
Simonetti devotes specific chapters per character, recording the same scene from each woman’s differing perspective. She adequately provides the background history of each character, including their mental/emotional states. The three first meet at a posh charity event. Jocelyn, Krystal and Goldie arrive with mental baggage occupying their respective minds. From this setting, the story unfolds.
On the outside, Jocelyn is attractive and poised, seven weeks married to rising construction engineer Bruce Anderson. A writer, Jocelyn is desperately struggling to produce a second novel; she is close to her publisher’s deadline but has produced nothing. Her writer’s block stems from paralyzing worry over child custody of her out-of-wedlock son, Billy.
Central to Jocelyn’s story is Daisy Jane Anderson, her deceased mother-in-law. Jocelyn finds a journal Daisy has left behind, which holds a shocking secret. There are only six journal entries from Daisy, written between the ages of 18 and 52. For this reason, I felt Simonetti could have developed more depth into Daisy’s character as she matured. Still, the journal convincingly casts a long-reaching pallor on the overall plot.
Krystal Axelrod is a Marilyn Monroe lookalike, but hardly a wannabe. Raised by a jealous mother who treated her with disdain, and relentlessly bullied in high school, as an adult Krystal has no self-esteem and feels inferior. The high society ladies of Cape May also treat her with disdain. Yet, Krystal is married to the town’s beloved millionaire. She has something to overcome, and Simonetti delivers.
Goldie Sparrows is a quirky and artistic aged hippie. She is haunted by the taunting voice of her 30-years-deceased husband, Simon—for a reason. Goldie knows something about Jocelyn’s husband, and she also holds a sinister secret of her own that will shock the reader late in the story. Simonetti knows how to get into her characters’ minds.
Occasionally, Simonetti sounded more like a technical writer than a fiction writer. Small point.
Simonetti does a superb job of character development of these three women. However, development is somewhat lacking in the male characters. With the exception of Simon, they are presented as flawless individuals, while the women have shortcomings. I found this to be annoying and unrealistic.
Simonetti does satisfactorily inject the elements of suspense, drama and mystery. I stayed engaged. The Sound of Wings is entertainable, with believable twists and a very unexpected ending.