Katherine Hill is happy with her life in New York City as an executive for a cosmetics company when she receives a letter, addressed to Kitty Hill, informing her that her old friend and neighbor has passed away, and she has been named in the will. Katherine has long left Kitty behind and while sad to hear of Luella’s passing, she’s not thrilled to return to her small home town in Vermont.
Laney Martin’s life didn’t turn out as planned — she was the one with dreams of New York — but she loves her husband and daughter, and would love her job at the local spa if it wasn’t for her unreasonably demanding boss. She too is saddened when she learns of Luella’s death and intrigued by the letter she also receives about an inheritance.
The former best friends, so close they were sisters, have mixed emotions when they learn they have inherited Luella’s mansion and all of her possessions, and the terms of the will require them to work together to sort through and sell the items and the house. Laney is still holding a grudge from a disagreement 12 years earlier that has caused the women to stop speaking to each other. And Katherine is eager to get back to New York.
Alternating with the present are flashbacks to the girls as pre-teens, when Kitty and her newly widowed father move in to the house on the other side of Luella’s from Laney, and they immediately become best friends. Laney is outgoing, energetic, and at times overbearing, and Kitty is quiet and studious, but the two complement each other perfectly. The flashbacks move through the girls in high school and then college, and finally as young adults and the argument that tears them apart.
As expected, as Katherine and Laney work to organize and clean up Luella’s house, they go from working separately and barely speaking to slowly mending fences as Laney lets go of her grudge and Katherine puts aside her own pride. Going through Luella’s things helps them both to realize what they’ve been missing, and that they can return to the friends and sisters they once were.
I enjoyed You Knew Me When and recommend it as a great summer read (or listen).
Content warning: There’s quite a bit of foul language, and while that doesn’t really bother me, at times I felt it was gratuitous and unneccessary. I know some of our readers prefer to avoid this type of language so if this bothers you, you may want to skip this one.
Notes on the audiobook: The print version of this book came out in September, so I received the audio CD to promote the audio book release. While I was at times confused as to who was speaking, the narrator kept my attention and made the book enjoyable, which is really the main thing I look for in an audio book.
You can hear a sample on Tantor audio’s page.
Andy Bland says
Sounds like a heart-warming book. I’d love to read it.