Thanks for stopping by Andi's Book Reviews today. I'd like to introduce you to author Philip Wilson. Take the time to get to know him a little bit better and also check out his new book Songs for Lucy. You can check out an excerpt and my review and even ask him some of your own questions in the comments section. Be sure to enter the giveaway and travel along the rest of the book tour for even more chances to win!
Please note that affiliate links are present. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to support my websites at no additional cost to you. I also received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Songs for LucyIt’s spring, and Allison Connelly has it all – pretty, popular and smart. With a summer job teaching tennis and starting Harvard Law School in the fall, Allison plans on a successful law career, marriage and kids – and dreams of becoming a Supreme Court Justice. When relentless headaches drive her to her doctor, Allison receives a terrifying diagnosis that destroys her plans and imperils her life. Devastated, Allison struggles to accept her shattered dreams and uncertain future. One night, she happens into a small-town pub and, on a whim, takes a job singing, finding solace and a measure of peace in her music. She settles in the town, and from that small beginning finds love, a new life and a new reason for living.
Read an excerpt:
Doctor Mackay spoke for the first time. “Allie, I’ve known you since you were a kid,” he began sadly. “You’re a fighter. Your first reaction is to look for other options, to refuse to accept defeat. But — both Doctors Smythe and Graham are experts in their fields. They’ve conferred with some of the leading oncologists at Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, and others; and the response has been unanimous and unequivocal. If I thought there was the remotest chance that something might work, I’d say go for it. You’re young, healthy, and should have your whole life ahead of you. But I just don’t believe there are any legitimate realistic treatment options out there, and I don’t want you spending your remaining time chasing false hopes, only to be disappointed. I’m so terribly sorry.”
Allison looked at him, hearing the pain in his voice and seeing the anguish in his face. Doctor Mackay had known her since she was a baby. He’d watched her grow up; he had been close friends with her father. Now he was telling her she was going to die – and it was tearing him apart.
“How long do I have?” Allison asked quietly.
“Each case is different,” Doctor Graham replied.
“We’d estimate two months. Could be one, conceivably three. We’ll prescribe corticosteroids which reduce the swelling around the tumors. This should also reduce the headaches and any drowsiness you’ve been feeling. You will probably feel fine for a month or so.”
“The headaches and nausea will eventually recur, and will increase in frequency and severity. All we’ll be able to do then is treat the symptoms.”
I was drawn to this story because I am a sucker for those dealing with life tragically cut short from devastating illness. Of even more interest to me is how Allie is suffering from a glioblastoma. While usually fatal, I do have one friend who has managed to survive one and is still symptom-free now five years later. It's a horrific experience for the people who are suffering from this cancer, as well as difficult for loved friends and family to watch happen.
In some ways, this book has too much tragedy in Allie's life for her and all of those around her. She is also almost too perfect, other than her diagnosis. For a little while in the beginning, I found her hard to relate to because of this. But the more that I read and the more that I got to know her, the more I did relate to her and like her. She became a real person and I found myself swept along her journey.
I also realized that this was part of the point of the book. Just because your life appears to be perfect, that doesn't mean that it can be. It also shows that glioblastomas, and cancer in general, aren't picky in whom they attack. Allie appears to have it all, but she doesn't. Her best friend that she meets at Second Journey (the hospice) is her complete opposite, in appearance and life history. Cancer didn't care and attacks her just as hard. But the friendship that develops between Allie and Terri is a beautiful one and one that not many of us get to experience in our lives.
I think the biggest lesson of his book is to appreciate life. Be grateful for what you have and spend your time with those you love and doing good in this world. You never know when all of that is going to change. Allie thought her whole life was still ahead of her, and in the twinge of a headache, it was all gone. We really just don't know.
This book will also make you fall in love with New England. I'm aching to go visit my family out there. I'll even take spring finally arriving so that I can get out along Lake Ontario, which I believe also inspired some of the scenes and descriptions in the book. And if you don't find yourself somewhat choked up and thinking about your loved ones, I'll wonder if you're even human.
What was the inspiration for this book?
After writing The Librarian – a revenge thriller in which a shy librarian finds the will and determination to fight back against a group of men who destroyed her life, I wanted to try writing a novel that would be more thoughtful, emotive and inspirational and I needed a storyline that would support these objectives. Unfortunately, there was no flash of inspiration. I contemplated a number of storylines that might work, before deciding on one with a young woman suddenly diagnosed with a devastating and probably terminal disease.How did you go about researching it?
Most of the research related to glioblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer that is almost always fatal and for which the progression includes cognitive decline, physical disabilities, personality changes and increasingly severe headaches. (This is the same disease that killed Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden’s son and from which John McCain is now suffering.)Which character spoke to you the most?
A number of them spoke to me. Certainly Allison who, faced with the loss of her dreams and an uncertain future, contemplates ending it all; but gradually builds a new life, finds love and a renewed sense of purpose. Marion Siegel, Allison’s aunt, who is tough, principled and compassionate. Against the wishes of both her husband (a lawyer) and Allison’s doctor, she assures Allison that if the fight becomes more than she can bear, she will support and enable her decision to give up the fight.What was one of your favorite scenes?
Unfortunately describing my two favorites, one of them being the final scene in the book, would provide spoilers. However, in another scene I like, Allison, standing at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean during a savage storm, is overcome by feelings of despair and hopelessness.Will we ever see these characters again?
Probably not. I liked the characters and how they developed through the novel. Lucy actually started as a minor character but, to my surprise, developed to the point I named the book after her. However, the thought of writing a sequel or otherwise carrying them forward doesn’t have much appeal. I like the feeling a fresh start with a new plot and new characters.What do you want readers to get out of your book?
I feel I should have a ready answer for this, but I don’t. I hope they find it thought-provoking, moving, and inspirational. One of my early readers called it ‘beautiful’ – and that certainly works for me.Tell us about your other published works.
Songs for Lucy is my second novel. My first was The Librarian, which I briefly described above. At the risk of a little self-promotion, the response to The Librarian has been gratifying. The book has been featured in The Huffington Post as one of the best Indie books in 2017, reviews have been excellent and sales are growing steadily.
What are you working right now?
I’ve started a third novel, tentatively titled ‘Ayla’s Arc.’ It is about a young Syrian woman who is orphaned during the recent Syrian civil war and goes to work for the CIA in the Middle East, first as an interpreter, then as a spy and ultimately as an assassin. She becomes one of the most successful and prolific assassins on the CIA payroll, but eventually realizes she can’t do it forever. She finally gives it up and moves to New York to pursue a legal career, but still finds the occasional need to fall back on her old skills.What are you reading right now? On your TBR?
I am part way through The Rooster Bar by John Grisham and The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I’m also reading a non-fiction book on a theoretical area of mathematics than intrigues me. However, I probably only finish half the books I start.
When not writing, what can we find you doing?
I have a 32-foot sailboat on Lake Ontario and spend much of the summers sailing. (Hence the sailing scenes in both my books.) I spend winters in Florida and do a fair amount of kayaking and some tennis. (Hence the kayaking and tennis scenes in Songs for Lucy.) Although, I’m retired from a career in finance, I still do some work in that area.Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Unlike The Librarian, Songs for Lucy is not the type of book I would typically buy, and certainly not the type of book I would have imagined myself writing. That said, I enjoyed writing it, and I like it. Even more so than for The Librarian, I’m curious to see what kind of reaction it gets.
About Philip WilsonPhilip Wilson is a retired financial executive who spends winters in Florida and summers sailing on the Great Lakes in his 32-foot sailboat. Songs for Lucy is his second book. His first, The Librarian, was rated one of the best reviewed books of 2017 by IndieReader and featured in the Huffington Post. Learn more at
Philip Wilson will be awarding a signed paperback copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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