Friday, February 10, 2023

Book Review: The Farewell Tour

It’s 1980, and Lillian Waters is hitting the road for the very last time. Jaded from her years in the music business, perpetually hungover, and diagnosed with career-ending vocal problems, Lillian cobbles together a nationwide farewell tour featuring some old hands plus a few new ones. She yearns to feel the rush of making live music one more time and bask in the glow of a packed house before she makes the last, and most important, stop on the tour: the farm she left behind at age ten and the sister she is finally ready to confront about an agonizing betrayal in their childhood.

As the novel crisscrosses eras, moving between Lillian’s youth—the Depression, the Second World War, the rise of Nashville—and her middle-aged life in 1980, we see her striving to build a career in the male-dominated world of country music, including the hard choices she makes as she tries to redefine music, love, aging, and womanhood on her own terms. Nearing her final tour stop, Lil is forced to confront those choices and how they shaped her life.

The Farewell Tour is the latest novel from Stephanie Clifford and will be published on March 7, 2023. Harper Collins provided an early galley for review.

I'm a music nerd whose favorite decade is the 1980's. So, this book seemed to fall right into my wheelhouse. Turns out, half of the book is indeed set in 1980 while the other half is a bit of a historical novel that follows Lillian as she gets to this point in her life. Still, I found it an intriguing story.

I was not surprised to hear Lillian's tale hitting some familiar story beats; from childhood to relationships to domineering men in the industry, all of the greatest hits are here. These are elements we often see in stories and in songs about women. They are reliable ones because they are so familiar, so easy to get those reactions from the audience. Still, the story is told well with several standout characters among the cast which includes Lillian herself.

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