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Excerpt from 'The Favorite Daughter' by Patti Callahan Henry

Updated: Apr 7, 2019

"May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten." —Irish Proverb

Chapter One


The problem with memories, Colleen Donohue often thought, wasn’t with the ones she couldn’t let go of, but with those that wouldn’t let go of her.

She was no longer called Lena; now she was Colleen. She had long ironed-straight hair, bright red lipstick, a loft apartment in New York City and scant vestiges of a Lowcountry river running through her veins. Gone were the curls and the sundresses, the flip-flops and fishing poles.

Her apartment in Brooklyn was a studio—functional, sunny and chic. Once a Presbyterian church, the stone building had years ago been divided into apartments. Colleen lived in the smallest unit, in the far top corner overlooking Arlington Place. She’d once found faded photos of the church and believed her studio had been part of the old choir loft.

That August morning she knew better than to leave the apartment. Although the air conditioner strained, it still kept her space at a lovely seventy-two degrees. Outside, the city was almost intolerable, the heat roasting the garbage and wilting anything green and lovely. No one talked much of that, but it was why New Yorkers who had them left for their Hamptons homes or their seaside cabins. Colleen had neither; her job as a freelance travel writer kept her out of the city most of the time anyway. Yet she was home that day, having just returned from Mexico.

The rainy morning was sluggish and insolent, having its own personality it wanted to impose on Colleen.