A Matter of Happiness by Tori Whitaker
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication November 8, 2022
Taken from Goodreads: A cherished heirloom opens up a century of
secrets in a bittersweet novel about family, hard truths, and self-discovery by
the author of Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish.
Melanie Barnett thinks she has it all together. With an ex-fiancé and a pending promotion at a Kentucky bourbon distillery, Melanie has figured out that love and career don’t mix. Until she makes a discovery while cleaning her Jordan MX car, a scarlet-red symbol of the Jazz Age’s independent women that she inherited from her great-great-great-aunt Violet. Its secret compartment holds Violet’s weathered journal—within it an intriguing message: Take from this story what you will, Melanie, and you can bury the rest. Melanie wonders what more there is to learn from Violet’s past.
In 1921 Violet Bond defers to no one. Hers is a life of adventure in Detroit, the hub of the motorcar boom and the fastest growing city in America. But in an era of speakeasies, financial windfalls, free-spirited friends, and unexpected romance, it’s easy to spin out of control.
Now, as Melanie’s own world takes unexpected turns, her life and Violet’s life intersect. Generations apart, they’re coming into their own and questioning what modern womanhood—and happiness—really means.
My Thoughts: This book… I could not stop reading. Violet and Melanie are both characters that want to make their mark on the world without having to follow the traditional boundaries that are put on women during the times they were living.
A Matter of Happiness is a book that tells of two women, a grape aunt and her great niece, who’s lives intersect while living in different times. When Violet passes away, she leaves Melanie her prize possession, her Jordan MX car. This car holds the secrets of Violet’s life via a journal. As Melanie reads the journal, she sees the parallels of her aunt’s life and her own. She sees how the decisions that Violet made are in line with the decisions that Melanie is trying to make in her life and how those decisions can shape her future.
I cannot choose whose storyline I liked better. I was so intrigued by both that I never wanted to stop reading. I love reading about Violet and her life in Detroit during prohibition. The friends she made, the relationships she had, and the choices she made did not always line up with society’s expectations, but she made the choices that would head her towards the goals she had set. Melanie made choices that would push her forward in her career, a promotion she was fighting for. As she read the journal she realized that maybe the life she was working for was not the life she really wanted.
I recommend A Matter of Happiness to any historical fiction reader.
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Meet Tori Whitaker (Taken from her website): My dream of writing a book first took root in my twenties, and some forty years later, I saw that dream come true. Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish—part historical fiction and part contemporary family drama—was my debut novel that released in fall 2020 (when I was 61 years old). I love stories that shift between the past and present. Maybe that’s because my family had five living generations upon my birth, and when my own grandchildren came along, my family had five living generations again. This experience has also given me a sense of what we observe in those who’ve come before us … and what we pass down from one generation to the next.
I was born in the suburbs of Cincinnati, mostly grew up in Indiana, spent a decade in metro-Detroit with my husband’s automotive career, and now we reside outside of Atlanta. We’ve been married for forty-five years, and we feel blessed to be near our two sons and their families.
My writing journey officially began when we became empty-nesters, and I had to research historical eras and draft book manuscripts during weekends and evenings. Now I’m retired from my career as a law firm executive. I love it!
I’m a member of the Historical Novel Society, and my feature article, “Multi-Period Novels: The Keys to Weaving Together Two Stories from Different Time Periods,” appeared in the Historical Novels Review. I graduated from Indiana University, where I studied business and English. I’m an alum of the Yale Writers’ Workshop, too. And I belong to the national Bourbon Women’s Association–which for me is a mix of fun socializing with friends of many backgrounds, exploring bourbon tastings, and having exposure to the fascinating history of the spirit that goes back centuries. (Also, my husband and I enjoy Friday night date-nights at home where he shakes up our favorite whiskey sours and we watch Netflix!)
I definitely make room for reading or listening to books, doing a little cooking, and playing in the sunshine. And I enjoy the community of readers! You can connect with me directly here or on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.