You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron
eBook review copy; 304 pages
You'll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron is a recommended novel of suspense featuring three generations of women and a mystery set in South Carolina.
Forty years ago four-year-old sister Janey Woodham disappeared from her
year, along with the doll her mother made her. Janey's seven-year-old
Lissie, was supposed to be keeping an eye on her, but she ran after a a
puppy that suddenly appeared in her yard. When Lissie returned home,
Janey and her doll were gone. Now Lis has a daughter in college, but she
still blames herself for Janey's disappearance. Her mother, Miss
Sorrel, has fashioned individual, hand-made porcelain portrait dolls for
years, with help from her bossy next-door neighbor Evelyn Dumont. Every
year on the anniversary of Janey's disappearance she puts out an ad
offering a large reward for a doll, Janey's doll, knowing that she will
When a college student in a beat-up car answers the ad, Miss Sorrel
knows it is Janey's doll, but the girl runs away rather than answering
questions about where she got it. That night Miss Sorrel's kiln
explodes, sending both her and Lis into the hospital and bringing Lis's
daughter, Vanessa, home. This sets into motion a search for the
mysterious young woman and an unraveling of a decades old mystery.
You'll Never Know, Dear is definitely more character driven than
a novel of great suspense. The mystery is easy to figure out, so the
pleasure in this one is in the characterizations of the women. Ephron
does a nice job developing her characters and placing them in the
context of the story.
While it starts out slowly and doesn't really provide much suspense
until the end, it does reaches a satisfying conclusion, which makes it a
good summer reading choice. In many ways this novel would actually make
a better movie because of all the dolls that are collected and sitting
around the house. I think the visuals of dolls, staring at the viewer,
could make this much creepier and up the suspense. (Just consider the
cover and a house full of staring dolls.)
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.