Proper Goodbye

Fiction - Womens
275 Pages
Reviewed on 01/19/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Connie Chappell is a bestselling author of both literary fiction and cozy mysteries. The long-awaited standalone sequel to her debut novel, Wild Raspberries, was released on December 1, 2016. In Proper Goodbye, Beebe Walker’s life changes when she learns about a secret buried in her father’s cemetery. The secret revolves around the burial of a homeless woman and eventually draws her home to Larkspur, Michigan, to renew a relationship with her father.

Her books, Wild Raspberries and Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont, were awarded the 5-star Readers' Favorite distinction. Two additional awards were received by Connie and Wild Raspberries in 2016: the Maxy Award for Best Literary Fiction and the Readers' Favorite Book Award for Women's Fiction.

In Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont, historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson solves a double mystery in her hometown of Havens, Ohio. A murder, coupled with a theft, pulls her away from her duties for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge and her after-hours job of writing historical articles for the local newspaper. Wrenn’s knowledge of hometown history, specifically the old train station, plays into this mystery. Connie’s inspiration behind the inclusion of a Havens train station extends from her hometown, Springfield, Ohio. A postcard and short history of the Big Four train station are uploaded to this profile. A second Wrenn Grayson mystery has been hatched, so stay tuned.

Wild Raspberries, released in April, 2015, is especially dear to her because memory quilts are stitched to it. Photos of the memory quilt she sewed are uploaded to this profile. Like hers, the memory quilts described in Wild Raspberries were sewn with squares cut from favorite clothing a loved one wore in life. The quilts tell a life story, and through them, the reader meets the loved ones the women in Wild Raspberries have lost.

Connie’s novels are published by Black Rose Writing.

Learn more about Connie and her first two published novels on her author webpage: Reviews of her books are there as well, so take some time and look around. In addition, she’s written several short stories—all ready for viewing on her website. Also ready for viewing are a host of podcasts.

Connie is a lifelong resident of Springfield, Ohio, where she serves its citizens from her office in City Hall. She also produces videos about Springfield, government projects, and community events for the local government-access channel. She devotes as much of her free time as possible to anything out-of-doors. Flowerbeds, golf, walking, and riding her bicycle are particular favorites.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell is a compelling story of lost and found. “Every heart is asked at some point to leave something or someone behind while it yearns and aches for a different outcome.” Beebe Walker is disillusioned by the church. When the church board dismisses her, she finds herself saying goodbye to another congregation. Her many years of service as a minister seem fruitless. Beebe doesn’t do “goodbye” well. Inside she is haunted by a farewell that never came. Her mother abandoned Beebe when she was sixteen. Abigail Walker left suddenly without a word, forever lost to Beebe and her father. After leaving the church, Beebe hides inside her own grief by becoming a grief counselor. Six weeks later, Beebe is surprised by a visit from her ex-fiancé, Vincent Bostick. Vincent brings shocking news. Reluctantly, Beebe decides to return home and face the past, hoping that, this time, she will receive a “Proper Goodbye.”

Connie Chappell is a gifted storyteller, she writes with her heart and soul. Proper Goodbye is a story about grief. Grief is different for everyone, it is an individual journey. Understanding this concept, Chappell pens characters, young and old, all grieving, yet each one in a different place in their personal journey. Her story takes place in a small town, a place where everyone knows each other’s business, or at least they think they do. This causes conflict for the characters as they attempt to keep their pain hidden. The writing style is descriptive, full of symbolism and parallelism, revealing the many paradoxes of life.

Chappell notes from the very beginning that story’s theme is “reflecting on one’s dreams and memories.” She holds true to her theme throughout the text. Time and again her characters are invaded by memories brought on unexpectedly by a sight or a sound. Memories can be both fiends and friends, welcoming and alarming. Not rushing the ending, Chappell ends her story with finesse. Delicately tidying up mysteries, and wrapping up loose ends, the story concludes with an unforgettable line, leaving the reader with a “Proper Goodbye.”

Mary C. Blowers

Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell is an unusual story. Not a typical romance, epic novel, or Christian novel, it delves into the homelier part of life. Beebe’s mother, Abigail, who seemed so nurturing and faithful, enjoying baking muffins for her family, became addicted to painkillers after an accident and eventually stole them from the small town hospital where she worked. When she was caught, she ran. For many years no one knew where she had gone, except a nurse, Yates, far away, who came to know her by another name. She seemed like just a transient homeless person, marginalized by the towns she drifted through, and she wasn’t talking about her secret.

I wondered as I read what her family did and thought and how their life transpired after her disappearance. We also don’t really know if or how she had grieved the loss of her family, since so little is said about that. When Abigail realized she was dying, she reached out to her family in a distant way, probably fearful they wouldn’t accept her.

We are left to wonder how everyone fared at the end, leaving room for a sequel. Small town dynamics are in play as everyone remembers Abigail’s crime and dramatic disappearance so long ago. Can Beebe Walker and her father Cliff get through it unscathed? Proper Goodbye was an interesting read and will help readers think about how their actions and judgments affect those in their life. It was also a good read and the story line came together. Connie Chappell is an accomplished author.

Kris Moger

I enjoyed reading Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell. It is the journey of a family as they work through a past coloured by rumour and judgment. Beebe, one of the main characters, in a crisis of faith, gives up her position as a minister and goes home to re-evaluate her life. During this time, she endeavours to discover the truth about her mother, to find forgiveness and reconciliation to a history that taints her future. But bringing up the past can be a difficult task that can either heal or hurt everyone she knows. Truth, lies, and secrets; everyone has something to learn from the past.

To me, Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell was an enjoyable and bittersweet story, filled with just enough mystery to keep me wanting more. While there are moments where scenes are a little overwritten, the majority of the work creates a vivid tale with great descriptions and touching moments. It is a story of love and life, faith, and truth. The characters, especially Beebe, were well-rounded and realistic — easy to relate to and root for. The honesty of Beebe’s journey was touching, a story of lost loves and reconciliation. I also found the characters of Vincent and Cliff compelling, and the interaction between the characters was realistic. Altogether, Proper Goodbye was a great way to spend a couple of winter nights, curled up and enjoying an intriguing and heartwarming story. I recommend Proper Goodbye to anyone who loves stories centered around family. Thank you for the read.

Katelyn Hensel

Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell is a story about a woman searching for answers. Beebe Walker becomes intrigued by the unusual circumstances surrounding the burial of a homeless woman in a cemetery owned by her father. Her relationship with her dad has been haphazard over the years and there's plenty of unresolved emotion there, but the identity of the homeless woman forces her to bridge the gap and attempt to build a new relationship. Still, there's more to discover, as the appearance of one Yates Strand to their town opens up even more questions to answer.

In terms of appearance, the cover of the book was beautiful, even in eBook form. I know they say don't judge a book by its cover...but wow. I would definitely pick it up if I saw this book in print just because of the pretty cover. The genre is technically women's fiction, but I felt that the emotions, the plot-driven story, and the characters really could be relatable to many different people. Proper Goodbye is one of those books that could be placed in many different genres and defies categorization. It's a deeply emotional family drama that has aspects of mystery, self-discovery, and understanding.

Personally, I felt connected to both the protagonist, Beebe, and even the author because the book was set in my home state of Michigan, and I felt like Connie really got the setting and the scenes, and just the general Michigan feeling right. This was an enjoyable read from cover to cover and I can't wait to read more from Connie Chappell.

Melinda Hills

A devastating loss, especially when it comes with so many unanswered questions, tears at the fabric of a family in Proper Goodbye by Connie Chappell. When Abigail Walker escaped Larkspur, Michigan, when her daughter Beebe was only 16 years old, it began a chain of events that would play out to a very strange ending 30 years later. Cliff Walker could never get past his wife’s desertion, leaving their only daughter adrift. Beebe turned to the Church which then also left her behind at the age of 46, far from Michigan. The odd coincidence of a drifter’s death in Larkspur brings the story full circle and in the hands of the local homeless shelter’s director as Beebe’s former fiancé, Vincent, knows the truth and is torn about how to handle it. Finally confiding in Beebe, Vincent convinces her to come home and take a position in his growing Senior Center where she will be able to be with her father again and, hopefully, come to terms with the saga of Abigail’s absence.

Beautifully written and poignant, Proper Goodbye touches on the gamut of human frailty, fear, emotion and compassion experienced by those facing loss and disappointment. Connie Chappell writes gently but with keen insight and laser-like directness regarding the variety of ways in which people confront and ignore the issues that make up the fabric of their lives. Fabric is also a concrete element that ties these pieces together as friends of the grieving create quilts that represent the lives of those who have passed on. Wonderful story that captures the essence of the emotions we feel without beating each one to death. Truly touching and moving with a great big dose of hope and peace. Although Proper Goodbye could be considered sad, it is handled deftly and positively, leaving you with an abiding feeling of love and hope, no matter the sorrow or loss that has come before. In other words, this is an excellent story about coping.