While this book was well written, I had a great deal of trouble "getting it". In fact, I kept waiting to "get into it", and well, then it ended. There was too much going on in the book! Lots of themes, but none were fully developed.
On the plus side, there was a good storyline and the characters were realistic.
Ella is fighting to protect the land she inherited from her father after her husband gambled, then mortgaged the land away. To do so, she begins a David and Goliath fight against small town prejudices, a corrupt bank owner, and a snake-oil religious only aided by her three sons, a mysterious relative-in-law, a close friend, and at the last minute, some neighbors.
I struggled to get into this story. While the characters are realistic and the imagery well drawn, I almost felt like there were too many themes to this story. The plot referenced spousal abuse, substance abuse, abuse of the disabled, abandonment, pandemic illness, gossip, child labor, racism, pedophilia, homosexuality (in a very subtle manner), false religion, WW1, prostitution, supernatural abilities, suicide, and murder (including infanticide). There are even two climaxes-one about saving the land, and the other about the 1918 flu. The majority of these themes are only in passing, aren't elaborated on, and left to dangle.
The very fact that this book manages to avoid feeling dark is a testament to the ability of the writer. The emphasis on hope, redemption, and honesty is necessary to make an otherwise bleak story of survival readable. But when I finished this story, I didn't feel enjoyment; I felt exhausted.
Three stars for being well written, and for having some creative plot twists. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under age 18, despite the extremely mild handling of most of the disturbing scenes. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone over 18 either, unless they have a particular affinity for Florida.
Ella is trying to keep her family's property after her husband disappears and the bank threatens to foreclose. With the help of a mysterious stranger, they work to raise the money needed.
I thought the book was good with a lot of interesting characters. There were so many characters that at times I couldn't keep them straight. I found the book rather sad with World War I, the influenza epidemic and a struggling family all taking place in the story.
I found this book to be well-written by a talented author. The story takes place in Florida and is about Ella and her three sons, who were deserted by their husband/father and left with huge debts. Because of the debts Ella's gambling husband left her to deal with, she is on the verge of losing everything: her home, the store, and her inheritance she received from her father due to a greedy banker who wants to turn the inheritance into a retreat center. When Ella is at her lowest and seemly hopeless place, in walks Lanier to the rescue. Lanier is Ella's husband's cousin and he is running from his past. When Lanier enters Ella's life, he not only causes family rifts to take place, but he also becomes the talk of the town because of his special healing gifts. With Lanier's help and Ella's determination to save the store, the family is able to work together that results in the ability to pay off the debt that Ella's husband left to the bank. This is a good book for those who like to read something that is more than just another romance story.