A Painted Lily

Fiction - Womens
286 Pages
Reviewed on 05/28/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers' Favorite

A Painted Lily by Angela Hoke tells the story of a young man plagued by the mysteries of his past and his true heritage, who sets out on a quest to discover his roots. Tony is accompanied by his long-term best friend and confidante, Becca. An unusual and confusing meeting with his brother, Pedro, begins Tony’s journey, which takes him to the streets of Havana in Cuba. There he follows a paper trail which eventually leads him to uncover the truth about his past. Not only does he discover who he really is, but he discovers true love also, although it takes him a while to realise this. Emotions run high as each character in this stunning tale evolves, leaving the reader breathless for more.

Every so often you come across an epic story that remains with the reader for some considerable time, and this is such a story. In a story told with incredible elegance and emotion, author Angela Hoke has spun a web of family secrets, unrequited love, harsh reality, and all gently blended with a touch of romance. The descriptive writing is a credit to the author, who has the ability to make the simplest task or setting a visual experience for the reader. The characters are well developed and endearing and this ensures that the reader understands and empathises with each one. Even the changing POV in each chapter works well and enhances the story and helps with the pace. This is truly an engaging read and one to be highly recommended.

Ruffina Oserio

In A Painted Lily by Angela Hoke, Tony is living a successful life as a real estate agent in Miami. He was brought to the US in the wake of the oppressive regime of Fidel Castro. But when tragedy hits his family, his eyes are opened and he suddenly learns that the past he believed was his wasn’t real, and that he might not even have fled with his family. He and his brother were rescued and evacuated by an operation orchestrated by the Catholic Church to save the children, bringing them to the US. So what actually happened to his family? This is a gripping story of love and friendship, of family and a man’s search for his roots, and the role played by a woman whose friendship could make a huge difference.

I enjoyed this story and it was fun to watch the friendship between Tony Ramirez and Becca. The story has a lot of dramatic moments that readers will savor. The characters are well-imagined. The friendship between Becca and Tony is well-developed and the reader keeps on reading, considering what could happen to the two in the end. Through a masterful use of suspense and a powerful conflict, Angela Hoke succeeds in holding the attention of readers throughout the story. I knew there was no way I was going to stop reading because of the power of the prose and the compelling characters. I also enjoyed the historical references and the way the themes are seamlessly woven into the plot. A Painted Lily is a story with a gripping plot and characters that feel as real as they are entertaining.

Deborah Lloyd

Carlos and Ramona Ramirez emigrated from Havana, Cuba, to Miami, Florida, after the revolution in the 1960s, with their five children. The novel, A Painted Lily, written by Angela Hoke, is set in 2004, with youngest son Tony and his best friend Becca as the main characters. Becca is a social worker with the Cuban American Advocacy Group (CAAG). She also is in love with Tony, who considers her to be only a friend. There is a closeness between them, highlighted by honesty, good food and drink, and salsa dancing. After Ramona’s death, Tony discovers he did not arrive in the US with his family, but arrived later. He and Becca travel to Cuba to unravel this mystery, and their relationship is forever changed.

Author Angela Hoke accomplishes much within her novel, A Painted Lily. She captures the culture of Cuba and its people, in both the ‘60’s and now. She also describes the culture of the large Cuban community in Miami. Adding to this, Ms. Hoke delves into family and romantic relationships in both eras. The trip to Cuba involves adventure and intrigue. The story is written from the points of view of Tony and Becca; each one alternatively telling the story. This also enables the author to reveal the inner thoughts of each character. While Tony and Becca are the main characters, other characters, such as the Ramirez siblings and parents, Rosa and the nuns in Havana, and Becca’s girlfriend Lena, add to the richness of the story. The novel is easy to read, and the reader is engaged from beginning to end. This is a great novel – complex, interesting and entertaining.