When I found out Litfuse was doing a blog tour for The Things We Knew by Catherine West, I couldn’t resist another opportunity to talk about one of my fave books so far this year! I’ve already done a review and an interview with Catherine West … so what could I do? And then it hit me! Character spotlight!! Because the characters in The Things We Knew get into your heart and refuse to let go. I’m still thinking about them almost two months later. (#teamGray)
A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.
After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother’s death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can’t remember a bit of it.
But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother’s best friend and Lynette’s first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can’t.
But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn’t want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.
As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface—secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.
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*all character pictures are taken from Pinterest and linked accordingly*
Lynette is haunted by her mother’s tragic death twelve years ago – she witnessed it but she’s blocked out the memory. It’s there, just beneath the surface, taunting her sleep with nightmares that add to the confusion. So she paints as a way not only to earn a living but also as a form of self-therapy, trying to unlock the events of that night that’s she buried deep in her mind. In addition, Lynnie is the sole caretaker of her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s. All her siblings have scattered and rarely return for visits. While Lynnie is the baby of the family, she is the one holding them all together. Her strong will & tough-as-nails determination keeps her from throwing in the towel when everything starts falling apart, and her faith – while it naturally wavers from time to time – gives her an inner hope, a beacon which others are drawn to.
Nicholas is Lynnie’s next door neighbor and childhood crush… the one that got away & the one that broke her heart. Growing up, he was also her brother Gray’s best friend but a falling out between them damaged their friendship, perhaps irreparably. Nick’s been away a long time but he’s back now to work at his dad’s bank and renews a tentative friendship with Lynnie. He steps in to the role her siblings should be playing and helps relieve some of the burdens she’s been bearing all on her own. And, of course, neither Lynnie or Nick have completely gotten over each other so there’s some delicious chemistry between them to be explored. Uh… and there’s this girlfriend he has, the one that looks fantastic on his arm in the press. Complications, y’all. But he’s solid and steady for Lynnie when she most needs a friend.
I’m #teamGray y’all. The main characters in The Things We Knew may have been Lynette and Nicholas but Gray stole my heart. Closest to Lynnie, he’s a popular and troubled rock star. We learn his story in layers, but when we first meet Gray his career is threatened by his addictions and his erratic behavior. After he returns home to Nantucket to deal with his current demons, he must face the ones he left behind too. I think one of the reasons Gray lodged so deep in my heart is that at times in the story he is both the strongest and the weakest member of the family. He’s certainly the deepest thinker in the family, which makes his scenes some of the most touching and heartbreaking. Gray is hot (just saying) but he’s also got a vulnerability that really becomes his most attractive quality as the story progresses.
Elizabeth Carlisle is Gray and Lynnie’s sister and at first glance she has it all together. She’s busy and successful in her career and seems the least troubled of all the Carlisle siblings. But when she’s forced to return to Nantucket in order to make decisions about their family home, we begin to see some cracks in the perfect facade. Out of all the Carlisles, Liz and I would probably not be friends right away. She’s a bit cold, to be honest, but that’s mainly because – despite the polish and poise – she’s hiding some painful secrets. Yet, as with Gray, I can’t quit thinking about Liz… and even though we might not have a fast friendship, I believe Liz and I would become lifelong friends eventually.
Cecily was the Carlisle’s housekeeper while the kids were growing up and for years after, until Lynnie could no longer afford to hire her. But she’s so much more than a housekeeper. She’s a friend. She’s warmth and smiles and hugs and comfort. She’s the reminder of grace and the nudge of faith. And really, she was the mother figure they needed, even when their mother was alive. She patched up the skinned knees and the bruised hearts back then and still does so. Cecily is the voice of reason and the family constant, and some of her words are lingering with me still. “We don’t know where he’s been, and surely only the good Lord knows where he’s going. But as long as he’s here, for as long as he stays, it’s our job to show him grace.”
While these were my favorite characters in The Things We Knew, there were several other characters who are essential to the story. For starters, the rest of the Carlisle siblings – Ryan and David – as well as their father Drake (who really should be clean shaven but I liked this picture best).
I can’t omit the dogs – Jasper and Diggory – or Zuzu will let me hear about it!
And of course – the most important character in The Things We Knew – Nantucket itself. The gorgeous scenery comes alive on the pages. The waves crashing against the sea wall. The windmill that Gray & Lynette bike to. The lighthouse. The beach. The flowers. The town itself.
You can see more of my imaginings for The Things We Knew by checking out the Pinterest board I made for the book! Also make sure you check out Catherine West’s The Things We Knew board to see HER vision of the characters.
Speaking of Catherine….
Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.
What about you? If you’ve read The Things We Knew, how do my visions of the characters match up with yours?