The Good Luck Stone

The Good Luck Stone

When we’re young, we dream of the life we desire.

That’s what Kentuckian Audrey Merrick discovers as a young Army nurse in the Philippines during World War II.

When we’re old, we face what life has delivered.

That’s what Audrey Merrick Thorpe, now a 90-year-old widow and a pillar of Savannah society, confronts in Heather Bell Adams’ “The Good Luck Stone.”

Audrey lives alone and likes it, but granddaughter Deanna Gayton–Thorpe, an officious worrywart, thinks she needs help.

She introduces Audrey to Laurel Eaton as a potential part-time caregiver, and Audrey reluctantly agrees to the arrangement. Laurel and husband Clay have a 10-year-old dyslexic son, Oliver, a scholarship student at the private school that Deanna’s son, Ford, attends.

Flash back to September 1941, when Audrey and fellow Army nurses Kathleen “Kat” Brooks and Penelope “Penny” Carson meet when assigned to the Philippines. The three women quickly bond, become fast friends and vow to remain so for life. To seal the deal, each acquires a jade and pearl pendant from a local artisan.

In the relatively peaceful days before Pearl Harbor, Audrey meets a handsome Army physician, James Strout, and they fall in love.

Seventy years later, Audrey receives a letter that sends her on a hazardous road trip to Wilmington, N.C. What follows is a profoundly affecting story of the search for Audrey and the secret that impels her journey.

Adams, a North Carolinian, attorney and the author of the novel “Maranatha Road,” as well as numerous short stories and scholarly articles that have appeared in literary magazines, fashions a narrative that moves between the war and the second decade of the 21st century.

She does so with a storyline at once poignant and stirring, characters drawn with such intensity and plausibility that they seem like folks we know, and a prose style so seemingly effortless that it belies its quiet, seamless power.

A testament to friendship that transcends age, class, economics and employment, “The Good Luck Stone” also examines issues of rupture and reconciliation, chance and choice, dudgeon and devotion. Do not miss this novel, a fountain of tenderness and wisdom.

Jay Strafford, a retired Virginia journalist, now lives in Florida.

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