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Susan Specht Oram
Shore Lodge
Her grief threatened to swallow her whole. When a seed of betrayal plants a devastating truth, will blood prove thicker than vengeance? Jacklyn Stone is struggling to stay strong. Left bewildered by her husband’s death, the devastated widow feels her usually competent management over her garden shop sliding into chaos. So when her son and daughter suggest a brief vacation to help speed up her healing, she heads to the remote retreat… only to realize she can’t check out. With her skin crawling as the so-called getaway reveals its true nature as a psychiatric facility, Jacklyn fights to establish her mental stability. But with her child determined to leave her locked in the gilded cage, she fears the tightly sealed grounds will be the permanent backdrop to her golden years. Can she reclaim her home before it’s forever destroyed? Shore Lodge is a pulse-pounding psychological thriller. If you like heroines with grit, tense stakes, and shocking treachery, then you’ll love Susan Specht Oram’s relentless revenge. Buy Shore Lodge for a five-star sleepover with insanity today!
Oram’s humane, surprising thriller centers on a powerful, believable, and terrifying story about elder abuse in which an older protagonist fights for control of her life—and eventually to escape captivity. Jacklyn’s grieving over the unexpected loss of her husband Albert has left her depressed, vulnerable and forgetful. Her children, Rose and Dusty, express their concern to her over her mental state and recommend a stay at Shore Lodge. Thinking the visit will only be a short one, Jacklyn agrees, only to find out that her children don’t intend for her to check back out. Her situation there quickly deteriorates, as she becomes distressed about what her children have done. Her agitation leads to a move to the psych ward of the facility and being subjected to various humiliations by staff.

The screws tighten as, in tensely written scenes, her access to her friends and family is cut off and staff at the facility refuse to listen to her pleas that she’s sane. Oram convincingly dramatizes how the legal and medical system can be used to strip away autonomy, as Dusty takes advantage of his power of attorney and access to his mother’s money to live the high life. The material at times is harrowing but believable, especially as Oram shows how everyday people can find themselves abetting elder abuse, even perpetrating it. Rose begins to question her brother’s intentions, but is handicapped by a demanding boss and caring for her young son.

The Rose storyline offers a welcome chance at redemption, a human touch that also has the effect of somewhat diminishing the narrative momentum. Readers will be eager to get back to Jacklyn as she begins a series of escape attempts, with Oram generating suspense from a screwdriver, a security camera, and her clever performance of self. The specifics of the story are chilling, as is the broader message about the vulnerability of older Americans.

Takeaway: An older woman faces the fight of her life when everything is taken away from her—legally.

Great for fans of: Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A