Her Good Name is more than just a superbly entertaining novel; it holds spiritual truths that are important to remember. Social boundaries were heavily drawn even in the late 1800's when this story takes place. The wealthy worked hard to keep their group elite and unspotted by those of lesser means. This is the situation Espy Estrada and Warren Brentwood found themselves in.
Espy was a beautiful and intelligent daughter of an American mother and Portuguese fisherman. She had her 11 siblings lived in poverty. After an accident her father had developed a serious drinking problem to the point he was rarely at home. It fell to Espy and her older sister to support the family. Her dreams for an education had been cut short.
Warren on the other hand came from a wealthy family that had given him the best education possible. They had his life planned out to take over the family business and marry the girl (of course an aristocrat) of their choice. He had been taught since he was young that this was his destiny. Although he felt obligated to comply with his parent's wishes, he was made of a different cloth than his family. He was kind and compassionate and saw value in people no matter what their station.
Espy had liked him since they attended grammar school together many years ago. He had just returned to their hometown from college and she finds ways to run into him on a daily basis. Warren is shocked at the beautiful young woman she has become and the strange affect being near her brings.
They are suddenly thrown together when their pastor asks Warren to start a youth group to bring young people back into the church and proposes Espy be his assistant. They become very excited about bringing both the wealthy and the working class together not only to learn God's Word but also to help the poor in the community. Alas, trying to combine the two social groups is like mixing oil and water. In spite of the difficulties, Espy's enthusiasm, energy, and positive attitude are encouraging and impressive to Warren. His family is very upset at him having any type of interaction with her. He becomes torn between his growing feelings for her and his family's expectations.
Espy feels she is moving up in the world when Mrs. Stockton, the wife of a respected local high school professor hires her on as housekeeper. Espy knows Mr. Stockton has a large library and hopes to be able to read some of his books. Unfortunately the professor has other motives and his wife catches him making inappropriate advances on Espy. Rather than tell the truth they spread lies about her and she becomes shunned by the entire town including Warren. She can stand it no more and moves to a nearby town where she lives with a missionary and his wife. God begins to work in both their lives in amazing ways.
The author beautifully illustrates truths in God's Word warning us not to judge others by how things appear. I loved Espy's strength in facing such condemnation and as she grew spiritually, allowing God to defend her good name. I admired Warren's strength in choosing to please God no matter who he might displease, even those closest to him. Two scriptures that this story brought to mind were:
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
And of course, A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
I was also very impressed that although this was a romance novel, it was written very clean and purely. An excellent book!
"I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review."
A working class girl in the late 1800s falls for a wealthy lumber baron's son from a higher social class, Warren has newly returned from travelling abroad and is preparing to take over the family lumber business. One Sunday afternoon after church the pastor asks him to start up a young peoples group and suggests that Espy help him. they become good friends until her good name is smeared around town and Warren believes the rumours. Epsy runs off to a nearby town, trying to forget about Warren. He finds she's had an effect on him as well and is unable to forget about her. Class distinction and family duty stand between them. How could anything more happen?
I loved how Ruth Axtell wove this enchanting tale, not rushing through but definitely keeping my interest with all the new situations and difficulties that arise. For both characters there is the tension between doing what is expected of you by your family and doing what you feel God is calling you to do. This is especially difficult for Warren. He feels he has no choice but to aqiesse to his family's hopes and plans. Espy, for her part, isn't content to work the rest of her life at the cannery or some other job where her brain isn't an asset. Nor is she going to marry someone with no ambition beyond the small borders of the seedy neighbourhood she lives in.
Once Espy leaves town things get very interesting. God is working in mysterious ways and the ending seems organic and entirely possible, but definitely unexpected. There are much deeper ideas woven into this story than in any typical Christian romance.
Ruth Axtell is one of my new favourite authors and I will be watching for her next book. I would certainly recommend this book!
I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of an honest review. My opinion is my own. Thank you Moody Publishers.
I tend to buy books because of their covers, it's true and I really was drawn to this books cover. The story is of a young girl who people tend to think down on as she is on the "other side of the tracks". When she receives a nice job she is pushed into a situation that looks bad and she has to overcome the gossip and issues that come with this. I really did like this book, but there were a few things as it says she dressed provocatively, but from my imagination I couldn't see it, but so be it. Still a fun read. It could be used in a book club as well :)
(I received a free copy of this book from Moody Press to review)
I wanted to throw this book across the room at least once. As well as yell "You jerk!!" towards some of the characters. That and "You wench!"
Man do I love books like that! I couldn't put Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell down!
Here's the breakdown:
Takes place in 1890 in the thriving coastal town of Holliston, Maine (I kept picturing Portland, Maine because that's the only place in Maine I've ever been).
There's a good looking fellow (the leading lumber baron's son) named Warren Brentwood, III, who returns to town after years of college and travel.
Throw in Esperanza Estrada, daughter of a Portuguese immigrant fisherman and a local woman, who lives on the wrong side of town, but wants more and takes a job in town as a housekeeper. She kinda has a thing for Warren (you can't really blame her though).
Then shady rumors fly about Espy and her respected employer. Drama for your mama people. Drama.
Warren believes the lie and his loss of faith in her causes Espy to give up without a fight. I would unlike this status if I could.
She leaves town, so what will happen next???
This was my first read of Axtell's and in case you didn't pick up on it, I loved it! She creates passionate characters, a great story and one that I got hooked on almost instantly. A fantastic story and I can't wait to read more from Axtell (like her new novel coming out soon!).
I've decided I have a talent for picking out really good authors. And I totally deserve an award for this feat. Say like free books for the rest of my life. Who wants to make this self-awarded honor possible? Anyone?