Format: Trade Paperback
Fiction - Contemporary Women
It took me quite a while to get into this book as it begins with contemporary characters Marielle and Carson as they move into Holly Oak, an old house that has withstood the test of time and war. The novel focuses on the house and its inhabitants, with the house of Holly Oak being a central theme that is strong enough to be a character in itself. As we slowly unwind the past via the contemporary newlyweds Marielle and Carson, we meet a few of the past inhabitants of Holly Oak. Many of the characters of the book were long gone by the time Marielle arrives at Holly Oak, but in order for Marielle and Carson to move onwards in life they have to untie the threads of the past that are holding them to Holly Oak .. and to Adelaide.
It is the story of the events of the Civil War that had intrigued me about this novel, and I was not disappointed with the story the novel finally creates surrounding this important period in American history. However, it took a very long time to come to that point in the past which was my main interest in the novel, and is why it only earned three stars in my book. It took me twelve days to read, when I would normally finish a book of this size within four days. I have found that I have an unconscious distaste for contemporary themes, no matter how hard I try to like the book, most often the main characters are shallow and wishy-washy and spoiled. I prefer historical fiction because I like to immerse myself in another time, when I can learn about a different era and have instant empathy for characters who have to work hard for their daily bread. None of this should have any bearing on the current read.. but since it took so long for me to become invested in this novel, I felt an explanation was in order.
Holly Oak is hundreds of years old, and with a history that creates superstitions and possible ghosts as horrors of the Civil War were witnessed by the house. As Marielle moves into Holly Oak, its elderly matriarch Adelaide is clinging to the past but stubbornly does not let its secrets unveil themselves to the reader. It turns out Adelaide's great grandmother was known as a Union Spy during the fight of the Confederacy in Virginia, and this ghost of Susannah has all of Fredericksburg talking about it to this day. It is Adelaide's estranged daughter who holds all the clues, but she has been MIA for many years.
In the end, we realize along with Adelaide the truth of the house, and the truth of her ancestors and their involvement with the Civil War. But, it is only through letters of Susannah herself (my favorite part of the novel, surprisingly) that the whole truth reveals herself, and that Holly Oak can figuratively rest in peace.
The epic conclusion was just what the book needed, the emotions of the characters as they discover the past were well portrayed, and everything came together in a very satisfying way. Although I wish the quickened pace had started a bit earlier, the novel as a whole was very enjoyable with writing that flowed easily with intriguingly flawed characters and I recommend it to those interested in how Southern life was affected by the Civil War. This intriguing story is a mix of light romance, an almost non-existent Christian nuance, and a good mix of contemporary and historical Virginians.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this honest review.
Juvenile Fiction - Religious - Christian - Fantasy
Fiction - Christian - General