Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren gave a glimpse into the life of the super rich at the beginning of the twentieth century. The year is 1913 and Cora has returned home from Normal School for the summer. Her dad has a stroke and recovers quite well. Then he has another stroke and this time he is completely incapacitated. Cora is working herself into a state exhaustion to keep the small farm going in spite of the drought that is plaguing the entire area. Cora is in the barn working when a fine carriage appears at the door of the farmhouse and two very well dressed men alight from the carriage. One man, a doctor, goes inside to examine Cora's father. The other man, Wallace Kensington, the copper king of Montana, is talking to Cora's mother and when Cora walks up her mother introduces him and then he drops a bombshell. He is Cora's birth father. She does not believe him but then her mother convinces her that what he says is true. He is there to offer her the deal of a lifetime. She is to take the Grand Tour of Europe with his other three children and three of their friends and in return he will send her father to the best hospital in Minnesota, pay her mother three times the worth of the farm, and pay for the rest of her education at the Normal School. Cora argues that she can keep the farm going but after talking more with her mother she accepts Kensington's offer in spite of her doubts. During the Grand Tour not only will Cora get to know her brother and two sisters, but she will come to learn a lot about herself.
The author did an excellent job developing the characters and they definitely came alive on the pages of the book. There were lots of twists and turns in the plot and many times one was left wondering what was going to happen next. There were also several times when I was sitting on the edge of my chair wondering if Cora or someone else was going to get out of the trouble they were in. There was even one incident when death seemed likely for one of the travelers. The dialogue in the novel was very enjoyable and whether it was Cora talking with Will, the two youngest girls talking and giggling, or any other individual speaking, the dialogue was great. When the Bear, leader of the group, was lecturing about the museums, art works, buildings, cities, and other items I could almost see what the group was seeing and felt as if I were right there with the group. The author obviously did a great deal of research for this novel and it shows throughout the entire book.
I highly recommend this book to all who like to read historical novels about the lives and loves of the super rich in the early twentieth century.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from David C. Cook at Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Though content, Cora Diehl's life seems to be unraveling as she struggles on the family farm with loss of crops, lack of money and illness to someone she loves. Unknown to her, a stranger appears to challenge her world as she knows it.
Cora is invited to partake in the Grand Tour of Europe (a tour which advances one's education while immersing in ancient history), but soon discovers so much more. Finding herself to also be Cora Kensington, she discovers a dynasty of which she is a part, including siblings, resources, and wealth. Given no choice but to participate in the Grand Tour, Cora attains knowledge of both the benefits and drawbacks of which she is connected, but more importantly, she gains self discovery and identification.
A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Yet again, Lisa Bergren writes a novel which draws the reader in and doesn't disappoint. Written in a style which uses different character's points of view, I found myself relating to the characters on a personal level. I appreciated the fact that Cora consistently turned to God for guidance on her challenges and decisions. Although a little plentiful at times on descriptions, the depth held my attention through romance, adventure, adversity and historical significance of the Grand Tour. The novel is loosely reminiscent of a rags-to-riches Cinderella story. While looking forward to the next book in the Grand Tour Series, Glamorous Illusions is definitely a must-read! Make sure to take the time to enjoy the Afterwords to further the story even a little bit more.
Cora Kensington is forced to leave her mother and ailing father to spend time with her birth father, a wealthy copper king, that she had not even been aware of until he showed arrived unannounced at their Montana farm. She is to take time to get to know this man she refuses to claim as her father. What shocked her the most was that her mother wanted her to go with him and spend time with him and her siblings she knew nothing about. How can she leave her Papa and go off with Mr. Kensington?
She is to go on a Grand Tour of Europe with her siblings. Mr. Kensington told her if she does this he will pay for her to finish Normal School to become a teacher, which is her heart's desire.
When she meets her siblings they went out of their way to snub her. She was not surprised, after all she was their father's illegitimate child, an interloper. Mr. Kensington informs her he will not be going on the Grand Tour. Who will defend her from her very outspoken siblings?
Cora is introduced to Will the very handsome tour guide and she realizes she has found a loyal friend. Now she does not feel so alone. But Will has been warned that he is not to become romantically involved with any of the clients on the tour or he would be removed from the tour.
Cora is overwhelmed at all the beauty and decadence of the rich and famous while on their tour of England and France. She will have good and bad memories to carry her through the rest of her life from this Grand Tour.
But will she be able to accept her birth father and will her siblings accept her as their sister?
The author has written a real page turner with healing grace, romance, suspense, mystery, and an abundance of history as Cora tours Europe. I did not want to put the book down and was so glad I was able to pick up book two of the series to read more of Cora's Grand Tour.
I highly recommend this book.
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book for my own reading pleasure and was not required to submit a review. This is my honest opinion.
it's the summer of 1913, and Cora Diehl has just returned back to her family's farm in rural Montana on leave from teaching school. Life on the farm has taken a tragic turn as she finds the crops failing, plagued by debt, plus Cora's father suffers a stroke and needs more care than they can afford to provide. All seems hopeless, until one afternoon a stranger comes to call, none other than wealthy copper-king Wallace Kensington. Within a few minutes of his surprising visit, Cora finds she has a new father, a new name, new siblings, new wealth that she has never known for years that will radically change her future! Wallace is very stubborn and gives Cora no ultimatum but to be thrown into this new life of pleasure, and abandonment. He starts by forcefully inviting her on The Grand Tour of Europe, that is supposed to open this country girl's eyes to what true art, sophistication, ancient history and refinement truly mean. As she struggles to stay strong and keep faith in the Lord, her only true friend on the journey is the Tutor, William, he understands suffering and pain, the two find solace and an unexpected forbidden love awaits. (Cora has more than one!).
Having personally just gone through a recent grief, this first novel was like a dip in a river of cool water! I discovered more of myself in Cora like never before, and the message of God is ever present, ever alive no matter how hard life is, God is there, He's always been and He will continue forever more! The pages sparkle with life from beginning to the last with an unexpected twist of suspense and intrigue that will leave you breathless! I anxiously await #2!
*This book was given to me by the Publisher for my unbiased, non-profit, independent review*
I'll admit that when I picked up this book I was thinking it would not be that good or could even could compare to The River of Time Series (which I loved!), but I have to say this book went beyond my expectations! I LOVED IT!!! I checked it out from the library, but I definitely plan to buy myself a copy to have on my own bookshelf!
Personally, I think this book is a lot better then The River of Time Series simply because Cora makes so much mention to her relationship with God! I really liked that! She admits her struggles with her siblings, but longs to be the woman God created her to be and earnestly prays about it! I felt Cora was very realistic and thought it was intriguing that she had two men that had strong feelings for her (I'm not sure who I want her to be with!) as well as having feelings for them! I also felt this book had a lot of depth that makes the reader reflect on who they are and any struggles they are having about who they are! I am greatly looking forward to the next book in this series because I know it will enrapture me as well as make me think about my own life!