Dove Jarrod left behind quite the legacy, including a small fortune that is used to renovate the infamous Pritchard Institute. And the weight of her secrets. Her granddaughter, Eve, carries the burdens of continuing Dove’s legacy while also knowing that Dove herself didn’t believe in her supposed gifts. But being in Alabama where Dove spent her earliest days leads to revelations. Dove’s life before her partnership with her husband, her time as part of the spiritualist team the Hawthorn Sisters, and the secrets she kept in her youth begin to unravel faster than Eve can keep up.
What is Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters about?
Continuing the story from Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, this book tells Dove Jarrod’s story. Or, Ruth’s story. Though you don’t need to have read the first book to understand this one, there are spoilers for the first book within this one due to the nature of Dove’s backstory. Carpenter returns to Alabama in both the 1930’s and present day. In the 1930’s, a teenage Ruth takes the surname Davidson and begins her work as a spiritualist by singing alongside Bruna, her friend and employer’s granddaughter. The threads of Ruth’s life begin to unravel and reform into her life as Dove Jarrod, cementing the mysterious upbringing that she had. In present day, Dove’s granddaughter Eve is confronted with her grandmother’s past and hurries to uncover the events of 1934 in a single weekend to clear her grandmother’s name and ensure the charitable foundation she and her family run doesn’t come crashing down.
Carpenter seems to specialize in thrillers and mysteries. Though there’s a ticking clock and a bit of a villainous figure in this book, it’s more mystery than thriller. There’s almost equal emphasis on Ruth’s backstory as there is on Eve’s unraveling of the secrets she left behind.
Tropes: Family Secrets
The biggest problems and plots of this novel concern family secrets. In a very Southern way, the secrets that people are hiding from one another within Dove’s family are coming back to bite.
Plot: Religious Conspiracies
There’s a couple of major religious conspiracies going on. Eve’s is that Dove’s secrets are threatening to upend the foundation that the family runs. She knows that regardless of the truth, if those secrets are exposed in the wrong way then major backers will leave the foundation in ruins. Meanwhile, Dove/Ruth is struggling with her belief in herself and her abilities as a spiritualist.
As always, Carpenter’s writing captivated me from the start. Ruth’s chapters were my favorite, since Eve’s were more plot based than character based. I enjoyed seeing a continuation of the story in Burying the Honeysuckle Girls, and I thought the subplot of Ruth/Dove struggling with whether she believes in her miracles or not was really interesting. It also felt fitting that there’s no firm answer either way. Miracles might exist, they might not. Dove and Eve might have a connection to something greater, they might not have. Faith is just as important as proof.
Eve was almost stubbornly obtuse. There was a lot of telling and not showing in terms of the consequences she feared for everything. Her entire life seems to be “I can’t do X because Y” but Y is a construction she’s made. I think it would have been interesting to see a bit more character growth from Eve in terms of learning to let go a little bit, and let others stand on their own feet.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ruth’s backstory was absolutely worth telling, and I’m so glad Carpenter returned to it! I enjoyed the way various threads came together to make Dove Jarrod an even more interesting character/person. Seeing Pritchard transformed was also a lovely bookend to Burying the Honeysuckle Girls. While I didn’t find Eve as interesting or fun as Althea, she was a reasonable character to read from. She definitely stood out as very un-Southern compared to the rest of the cast, though.