My Melissa

Robert Beatty

Publisher: AuthorHouse Pages: 1032 Price: (paperback) $32.99 ISBN: 9781665578202 Reviewed: May, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

A blend of romance, mystery, and historical fiction, this shelf-bender of a novel revolves around a photograph that twin girls find in an old box that raises questions about their grandfather’s murky past.

When identical twins Mandy and Mindy uncover a mysterious photograph hidden in a false bottom of a picture box their grandfather had made for his wife when they were married, the two women embark on a quest to find answers. The black-and-white photo shows their grandfather George Brook with a beautiful blonde woman and another man who looks like Brook’s identical twin (a twin they never knew existed). It was developed at a Baltimore-based company back in 1939 so the twins travel from their California homes across country to investigate.

Once in Baltimore, they eventually find the woman in the photo, Melissa Jane Hathaway, who shares with them a remarkable tale of love and loss. When she was a “dirt-poor girl from the deep ‘southern Cracker South’” cleaning cabins at a resort, Hathaway met twin brothers Arthur and George Easterbrook. She fell in love with both of them—and they with her. What followed was a mystery that started with Hathaway marrying Arthur and George going missing while hiking in the mountains. As the story unfolds, the twins Mandy and Mindy discover an unlikely love story for the ages.

While the writing here is certainly competent, the issue is with the unwieldy, serpentine nature of the story. The narrative—more than 1,000 pages—has no real urgency; the pacing is slow, exacerbating the effect of the bloated, rambling nature of the writing. For example, extended battle sequences involving Arthur (a pilot during the war) and George (who fought in WWII in the famous Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors) unnecessarily drag on for numerous chapters.

Ultimately, this gross lack of editing and a lethargic narrative devoid of momentum or immediacy undermine what could have been an interesting trip into the past.

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