Book Review – Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Millions of people around the world adore the story of Anne of Green Gables. Thanks to L.M Montgomery’s series and numerous film and television adaptations, Anne, along with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, Diana Barry and Gilbert Blythe are so familiar as to almost be part of people’s lives.

When I learned that a prequel about Marilla’s early life was available, I was thrilled. At the same time, I was also anxious. When a story is beloved as Anne of Green Gables, one hopes that a new author can remain true to the original author’s voice and also to the characters themselves. This is not always guaranteed. But I am happy to say that Sarah McCoy’s Marilla of Green Gables managed to achieve the almost impossible.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Marilla of Green Gables takes us back in time before the arrival of a red-headed orphan. It introduces a thirteen year old Marilla, her twenty-one year old brother Matthew and their parents. Green Gables has just been built and Avonlea is the same small community we all know and love. Some of the family names will be familiar to Anne fans, proving that Avonlea residents run generations deep. We also meet Marilla’s new friend Rachel White, her Aunt Izzy and a young John Barry.

The book follows Marilla through her teenage years as she experiences change, tragedy and responsibility. The last third of the books skips ahead twenty years to show the main characters as adults. Although Marilla is the main character, we also experiences plenty of her brother Matthew and the future Rachel Lynde as well as the future father of Gilbert Blythe.

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Book Review -A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

SYNOPSIS

Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first. Continue reading “Book Review -A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano”

Book Review – What the Wind Knows

Amy Harmon is a talented author who has penned stories in several different genres. As a fan of historical fiction, of all her stories, my favorite is From Sand and Ash, a WWII tale of love, bravery and an inter-faith romance. So, when I learned Harmon’s latest release was another historical offering, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  As I’ve come to expect from Harmon’s novels, it did not disappoint. What the Wind Knows was a story I could not put down.

WHAT THE WIND KNOWS SYNOPSIS

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?

For my full review of this wonderful book, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Book Review – The Girls in the Picture; Bringing Early Female Film Pioneers to Life

SYNOPSIS

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin brilliantly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak. Continue reading “Book Review – The Girls in the Picture; Bringing Early Female Film Pioneers to Life”

Book Review – The Matrimonial Advertisement

ABOUT THE MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENT

As a last resort, Helena Reynolds answers an advertisement for marriage to a complete stranger. She is desperate for the security of a husband’s name and the safety of living in a remote estate in Devon.

Justin Thornhill is a former soldier still recovering from the tragedy and torture of his last assignment in India. He didn’t place the ad for a wife, but is drawn to Helena’s beauty and refinement. Something about her also draws out his prospective instinct.

These two strangers marry, but their complicated pasts will prove a challenge they must overcome before they can find love.

For the full review of this book, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Book Review – Carry Me Home

.YNOPSIS

Finella Mayfield hates two things: liars and thieves. And she’s determined to marry a man who’s neither. Chasing her dead father’s dreams, the twenty-year-old English bride arrives in Australia in 1875 for an arranged marriage. Anticipating her future as village preacher’s wife, she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal.

But instead of her fiancé, Finella is met by Shadrach Jones, a poor farmer sent to collect her from the busy Melbourne pier.
This is not what her father planned. And it’s only the beginning of the unraveling of Finella Mayfield ~ the bride with no groom.
All Shadrach Jones longs for is rows of mustard and chicory. He’s busy growing a farm near the Phillip Island fishing village of Cowes, and caring for Molly, his simple sister. Far from the brutal life they remember with their ex-convict father, Shadrach’s building something new.

But he’s also made a promise to a dying friend. To collect and marry the English girl destined to never be a preacher’s wife.
Can Shadrach convince Finella she has a future with a farmer? Can he convince himself, knowing his family secrets will haunt their future? Continue reading “Book Review – Carry Me Home”

Book Review -Little Women

I think I’ve seen just about every film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book that is known to man. No matter the version, I’ve always loved the March family and their relationships with each other and those they adopt into their circle. But, I’ve never been happy with the romantic relationships as portrayed on screen.

After watching the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder again recently, I decided it was high time I finally read the book for myself. Especially since my strategy for reading more classics is to tackle the novels of film adaptations I really enjoy. And that is how I finally found myself reading Little Women.

The story of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy is so well-known that I hardly think I need to summarize it here. Suffice it to say, that at over 500 pages long, the book gives much more time to developing and detailing these beloved characters, their relationships, their personal growth, their trials and triumphs.

You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone. Meg is the turtledove, and Amy is like the lark she writes about, trying to get up among the clouds, but always dropping down into its nest again. Dear little girl! She’s so ambitious, but her heart is good and tender, and no matter how high she flies, she never will forget home.

Continue reading “Book Review -Little Women”

Book Review -The Blue Castle

SUMMARY

All her life, Valancy Stirling lived on a quiet little street in an ugly little house and never dared to contradict her domineering mother and her unforgiving aunt. Then she gets a letter—and decides that very day things need to change. For the first time in her life, she does exactly what she wants to and says exactly what she feels.

At first her family thinks she’s gone around the bend. But soon Valancy discovers more surprises and adventure than she ever thought possible. She also finds her one true love and the real-life version of the Blue Castle that she was sure only existed in her dreams…

MY THOUGHTS

I’m going to admit to my deep shame that I can’t remember ever finishing a book by L.M. Montgomery. Yet, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the Anne of Green Gables television series. So, when The Blue Castle kept popping up as a personal favorite of various authors I read, I knew I had to read it. Still, it sat on my TBR list for longer than I care to admit. Continue reading “Book Review -The Blue Castle”

Book Review -Impossible Saints

SUMMARY

Escaping the constraints of life as a village schoolmistress, Lilia Brooke bursts into London and into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.

As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Lilia would rather destroy property and serve time in prison than see her spirit destroyed and imprisoned by marriage to a clergyman, while Paul wants nothing more than to settle down and keep Lilia out of harm’s way. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for. Continue reading “Book Review -Impossible Saints”

Book Review -Sons of Blackbird Mountain

SUMMARY

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love. Continue reading “Book Review -Sons of Blackbird Mountain”