Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Lane Roanoke’s mother committed suicide when she was sixteen years old.  She was then sent to live with her wealthy, but unknown to her, Grandparents in their rural Kansas farm.  She also meets her cousin Allegra who is like the sister she never met.  It doesn’t take Lane long to realize why her mother ran away to New York City to have her and suffered from depression.  What is the curse of the Roanoke Girls?

The novel also flashes forward to the future where cousin Allegra has gone missing.  Lane returns to Roanoke to help to solve the mystery of her disappearance.  She also has to battle past demons and the feelings she still has for her high school boyfriend, Cooper.  Tommy, Allegra’s high school flame, is now a married cop and works with Lane to help to solve the mystery.  What happened to Allegra?

I liked the parallel story lines of the past and future working together to tell the entire story of the Roanoke girls.  Unfortunately, part of the mystery was a deal breaker to me and I couldn’t really enjoy the rest of the book.

Near the beginning of the novel  I suspected the secret of The Roanoke Girls and then it was blatantly laid bare for the readers pretty early in the story so I wrestle whether this is really a spoiler alert.  The secret is the story is really a story of incest in one family with Grandpa as Dad/Uncle/Grandpa/Brother lover.  I am not keen at all on incest stories with every female member of the family sleeping with Grandpa including his daughters by his daughters and sisters.  It reminded me a bit of A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley, but not as in depth of a story.  I didn’t like A Thousand Acres.  It also reminded me of VC Andrews’s books that I used to read as a teenager.  The difference is that the VC Andrews characters were so well developed in their love story with one central love story that I could almost be convinced that it was a justified romance.  In the Roanoke Girls, there are a lot of different girls through the decades and some only get a brief chapter that tells of their love and demise.  Grandpa is also not well developed, I wanted to know why he had this problem with incest. It really made no sense to me at all, and frankly disgusted me. 

If I would have known the secret of The Roanoke Girls before I read this novel, I wouldn’t have read it.  I liked the style of writing and the characters, but the topic disgusted me and I didn’t feel convinced by the novel why the Roanoke girls would have all went along with this.

Incest is a deal breaker to me - what is a deal breaker to you when you read a book that you just can't get past?

Book Source:  Review Copy as part of the TLC Book Tour. Thank-you.  A complete tour schedule is located at: 


  1. Yeah I don't like reading about incest either. I read VC Andrews too when I was a teen, but the difference is that it wasn't about an older adult taking advantage of a child.

  2. Wow, am I glad I never got this one for review. I was tempted, but I'm so glad I didn't. I appreciate knowing ahead of time.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.