Lisa T. Bergren's books and writing have always been satisfying reads. Grand Illusions is no exception.
Combine Bergren's writing, historical fiction, and the image of families making the illustrious and educational "Grand Tour" of Europe in the early 1900s and you undoubtedly have a winning story to share.
Cora Kensington's character was drawn from the poorest of Montana farm families to experience the Grand Tour with family members she has never met. People who are diametrically opposed to everything Cora has ever known. Yet, Cora knows exactly who she is meant to be, or so she believes.
Cora is torn between staying behind to manage what is left of the failing family farm as her father is ill and can no longer work the farm. Her parents are insistent upon her going as a certain stranger has appeared and offered the trip of a lifetime to Cora. What Cora uncovers is that this stranger is part of a secret from her past. An uncomfortable secret.
On the trip Cora encounters the best and the worst of family relationships. And she becomes enamored with a love she did not expect, while another waits in the shadows of her life feeling himself unfit and too poor compared to his competition.
As always, Bergren's plot, characters, and scenes are well crafted. A book easy to get caught up in, Glamorous Illusions lives up to the author's reputation and the book's title.
Recommendation: Lovers of historical fiction and the early 1900s, as well as Europe during that time period, will thoroughly enjoy Glamorous Illusions. There is really nothing more that needs to be said about this book.
This was a great story showing the contrast between Cora's down to earth life on the farm and the tour of Europe among high society. Lots of romance and adventure but more importantly the focus of seeking the Lord's will in all of life.
Cora Kensington is perfectly happy with her life. On a bankrupt farm in 1913 Montana, her mama and papa are struggling to eek out a life while Cora is away at college. Returning home for the summer, Cara has big dreams for her future. But she finds that her parents are barely making ends meet and have heavily borrowed so she can go to school. When a family member suddenly falls ill she has no choice, but to work sunup to sundown to keep the farm alive. Cora has no choice but to give up her dreams to be a teacher to take care of her family.
But in the story strongly reminiscent of Cinderella, a stranger arrives at their door with the news that Cora is not who she think she is. Pulled away into the fascinating world that is made of unfathomable riches, half siblings, and a father she didn't know she had, Cora faces the biggest challenge of her life. Who is she? Who is she meant to become? But more importantly - why?
Following Cora and her family as they are on a Grand Tour is exciting, and pumped my veins with adventure. I am such a homebody, but this novel inspired me to see the world for myself. Reading of Cora's struggle to fit in, to try to make the best of her circumstances is beyond commendable. She may be a fictional character, but Bergren has crafted a woman that will long remain in my memory. Truly a book that must be shared with the world.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
What is an illusion? An illusion is defined as something that deceives by giving a false impression of what really is. This story begins in the wilds of Montana, but then shifts to the wealthy European stage. The year is 1913, and the two main characters of this story are Will McCabe and Cora Diehl Kensington. As the story progresses, Cora and Will learn what it is to be real and what is only as they think it to be.
Cora has been raised on a farm, doing chores from sun up to sun down. She returns for summer vacation from college where she is studying to become a teacher. She has finished two years and has two more years to go to complete her degree. Upon arriving home, Cora discovers her father lying in a barn unconscious. After being seen by the doctor, not much hope is given to Cora and her mother. Cora soon learns that her father's health will never be what it once was, her parents have no money and Cora's likelihood of returning to college in the fall is very improbable, if not impossible. Then, a stranger arrives at their house and Cora is soon told a secret she could never, ever have guessed. This stranger offers Cora and her parents a future they never would have dared dream about.
Cora is soon thrust into the midst of two wealthy families, the Kensingtons and the Morgans. Each family has children on the brink of adulthood who are going on a Grand Tour of Europe to learn about art, history and different people and cultures before returning home. Cora continually struggles to become part of the group. Her only friend is Will McCabe, a tour guide in training. Will has two years of college under his belt, but due to financial reasons had to leave college a few years ago. He hopes to earn enough money this summer to return to college in the fall. He wants to be an architect, but his uncle wants him to take over the tour business full-time as his career. Will identifies with Cora's struggles to become a part of a new group. He encourages her, befriends her, protects her, and begins to fall in love with her. There can be nothing between them as Cora is now part of society's elite and he is just a tour guide. As Cora tries to come to terms with whom she really is, will she remember Who she really belongs to? The One who will never abandon her, never let her walk alone?
This story is rich in historical detail, which is one reason I so enjoy reading historical fiction. I learn new things, but I can also use my imagination and get lost in a good fictional story. I will soon be reviewing the second book in the series, Grave Consequences, as well as the third book in the series, Glittering Promises. Both of these books continue to follow Cora's Grand Tour of Europe as well as her ever-changing lifestyle and knowledge of herself. As I was reading, I was reminded that we have choices placed before us often, but do we consult the One who can always advise us best before making our decisions?