"A Hearth in Candlewood" is a Christian historical novel set in the 1840s in a small canal town in New York. It's the first novel in the series, but while I was reading it I wondered if it was the 9th or 10th in the series since there were so many interesting stories briefly referred to as back story.
I really enjoyed the characters and setting. I found the vivid details about the time and setting to be interesting and they brought the story alive in my imagination. The characters acted in realistic ways, and there was an underlying humor to the book. I liked how Emma would scold someone for how they behaved, then realize she needed to apologize for something she'd done and so have to go back and humble herself. Though she "said a prayer" a few times or would realized her behavior wasn't Christ-like, the novel wasn't preachy. Yet her faith obviously had an impact on how she acted, though she obviously still had much to learn about faith.
There were two sources of suspense: the conflict about the "grandma's" sons (which Emma was calm about solving, so I assumed it'd work out) and the suspense about her not really owning the house. I would have been okay with the book ending without resolving the house problem if we hadn't been told that the true owner was expected to arrive any minute and make his decision...and then the book ends. I don't like "cliff-hanger" endings.
The story also lost a bit of charm for me over the whole chicken scenario. I've owned chickens for year. I just can't imagine anyone--even "village folk"--being terrified of a hen calmly sitting on a table. Yet all the characters are! Also, chickens don't ruin everything they look at (like a hat that fell off as a man dashed by) or sit on (like some riding trousers). I took me out of my immersion in the story, though it probably won't be a problem for others.
There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this charming, engaging story.
I loved all the people in this book and it was very interesting but the ending was such a disappointment as it does not tell us if she loses her home! I kept reading to see if her home was safe and if a romance ever developed and neither happened! Felt let down.