Review: The Sound of Wings by Suzanne Simonetti

Review by Rachel Shubin / Spring 2021

Just as the monarch butterflies float through the Cape May skies during migration season, monarchs are found in many chapters of The Sound of Wings. This story is told from the perspective of three Cape May women who are all at various stages in their lives. Although at first the narratives appear unrelated, the reader soon discovers how they intertwine. This connection paves the way for mysteries and unlikely friendships to emerge. This novel will evoke Cape May memories and have the reader ready to pack for her next trip. For those who call Cape May home, this story feels like taking a walk around town without leaving the couch. The Sound of Wings is an intriguing tale that will remind you of a home away from home.

Goldie Sparrows is a 70-year-old woman haunted by her late husband, Simon, and her father-in-law, Patrick. Each time she catches a whiff of scotch, she feels Simon’s presence, and when she sees butterflies, she feels as if Patrick is beside her. Goldie spends her days at her clay shop, Little Birdie Studios. Threatened by the loss of a stable income, Goldie worries about the future.

For 29 years, the studio has been open on Carpenters Lane. Bringing people into the shop has been a struggle recently, so Goldie plans to offer teaching sessions to bring more income her way. She finishes a mermaid piece to be auctioned at a charity event at the home of her longtime friend and contractor, Bruce Anderson.

Jocelyn Anderson is a struggling writer and mom facing a custody battle over her son. Jocelyn is remarried to Bruce, a popular home builder in Cape May. Her son, Billy, is spending the summer with her ex in Ocean City, Maryland—a choice which profoundly upsets her. When she is not writing, she throws herself into coordinating the charity event she and Bruce are planning.

Krystal Axelrod is a newlywed struggling to overcome the demons of her past. A small-town girl from the Villas, Krystal did not have a comfortable or loving childhood. After graduating from Atlantic Cape Community College, she worked at a lighting store where she met her future husband, Abe Axelrod, a criminal defense attorney who owns a beautiful house built by Bruce Anderson. Despite the luxurious life Krystal and Abe live in Cape May, Krystal still struggles with the torment she faced from her father and the mean girls in high school.

As each chapter alternates between the women’s narratives, it allows the reader to slowly discover how Goldie, Jocelyn, and Krystal’s lives intertwine with each other. The charity event is the first time the three women come together. Jocelyn always felt judged by Goldie, as she always warmly greets Bruce when they run into each other. Knowing how much Bruce misses his mother, Daisy, Jocelyn figures he finds comfort in Goldie’s friendship.

Procrastinating on writing her book, Jocelyn goes to find her custody agreement, and as she reaches for it, she comes across a diary from Daisy. Written in the 1970s, she finds a note explaining that these pages will unearth Bruce’s real history. She begins to read the diary and escape into another life.

The three women begin to spend time together when Krystal and Jocelyn take pottery lessons from Goldie. During these lessons the women discuss their jobs, lives, and relationships. Each chapter delves deep into each woman’s thoughts, allowing the reader to empathize with the challenges they face.

In The Sound of Wings Goldie’s story flips back and forth between the past and present. Goldie remembers the loss of her father-in-law and how it changed her marriage with Simon. Goldie’s life is not what it once was, her vision is becoming blurry, and she is suffering from memory loss. Krystal has been spending time in Little Birdie Studios, finding her niche in clay making. She has noticed Goldie’s health continuing to decline. Eventually, Krystal is forced to intervene to save Goldie and discovers shocking news.

Jocelyn continues to read Daisy’s diary and procrastinate on her book writing by getting lost in that story. She reads an entry that will change everything for Bruce. Before Jocelyn has a chance to tell Bruce what she’s discovered, another truth is revealed that ends in an unexpected argument between the couple.

The Sound of Wings has twists and turns the reader will not expect, with a story that is eloquently woven together within the last few chapters and epilogue. The authentic connection that grows between Goldie, Jocelyn, Krystal, Abe, and Bruce is the epitome of small-town life.  Each woman finds friendship with the other, creating unique bonds to last a lifetime.Readers will enjoy Simonetti’s mentions of so many favorite Cape May locations, as well as favorite traditions like the West Cape May Christmas Parade. The vivid imagery created by her words makes the reader feel as if they are in Cape May as the pages turn. The Sound of Wings is an excellent story for those looking to get lost in the world of three memorable women.