Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.
A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.
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Last Ride to Graceland
by Kim Wright
May 24, 2016
Graceland. Probably one of the most famous residences in America. Elvis lived there for years and kept an entourage that resided there, as well. Included in that number was Honey Berry, one of his backup singers, and the daughter of a small town minister. She was there the day Elvis died, and when she left that day, she took a very famous Stutz Blackhawk car with her. She also had one other thing she took with her, the baby that was due in seven months. The character is fictional of course, placed into a famous moment in rock history.
Cory Beth Ainsworth is pushing forty and spends her time singing and playing her guitar in various clubs and restaurants along the eastern seaboard, with a home base in South Carolina. Her mom, once known as Honey Berry, is now dead and her “dad” is off on a fishing trip. She finds a Stutz Blackhawk car hidden in her dad’s old fishing shack, literally wrapped in bubble wrap. She takes one look and finally faces the idea that Elvis might have been her father-why else would her mother have Elvis’s car? And why has her mom and dad hidden it all these years? Pretty much immediately she takes off on a road trip to Graceland, driving the Blackhawk. It’s not a straight shot to Memphis, instead, she follows in her mother’s footsteps on the back roads, stopping at places a long the way based on the fast food wrappers still in the car from her mother’s flight from Graceland. She wants to find her father, but along the way, she finds so much more.
I had never read anything by this author, so I had no idea what a treat this book would ultimately be for me. Ms. Wright’s writing is nothing short of amazing and eloquent. I really had no idea where the author was going with this book. The story unfolded slowly at first, but eventually I was so engrossed in it that I couldn’t put it down. Not only do we get Cory’s perspective, we also get Honey’s-with everything Cory learns about her mother’s past, we also get the real story as it happened in Honey’s world. It really worked, I thought.
There’s literally nothing in this book that struck as wrong. The writing was wonderful, the story was highly original, and the characters were fully realized, both in Cory’s world and her mother’s past. And yes, Elvis is a peripheral character in this book if you are wondering. And if you are looking for a romance, this isn’t the book for you. Although, I would still give it a try as it’s such a unique story.
Highly recommended read for readers probably 15+ to adult.
The review copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
About Kim Wright
She has also created the City of Mystery Series, which contains the following books: City of Darkness, City of Light, City of Silence, City of Bells, City of Stone and the Christmas-themed novella The Angel of Hever Castle.
Kim lives in Charlotte, NC where her interests include ballroom dance, cooking, travel, and dogs.