MY REVIEW of Book One, Dandelions on the Wind: "Clutching her cloth doll, Gabi looked at her. 'My PaPa came back.'" This story is told with gut-wrenching honesty given to the feelings of the characters. It is not difficult to imagine the emotional pain and physical hardship it created for a grieving mother-in-law and young daughter for the father to walk away and leave his newborn infant. Can they accept him back into the fold and welcome him home? Wooly is hoping and praying that they can do just that. How will Maren fit into the plan? She has been helping his mother-in-law and daughter on the farm and now he displaces her with his return, but she may be more than happy about the new arrangement. Read to find out these questions and more. This is a five-star novella.
MY REVIEW of Book Two, Bending Toward the Sun: "'You're upset that I was speaking to an Irishman?' PaPa looked everywhere but at her. 'The McFarlands run freight wagons to and from the docks. They're teamsters. They're Irish.'" Dear Emilie wants a family of her own and she also desires nothing more than to care for her dear widowed father. He wants an entirely different life for her and he certainly does not want her courting an Irishman. Prejudice rears its ugly head in book two, but can God soften the heart of a loving father or is it hopeless for Emilie? Grab the tissue box and a comfy chair to read this novella to see what transpires. 5 Stars *****
MY REVIEW of Book Three, Ripples Along the Shore: "The woman's nervous giggle tensed Caroline's shoulders. No one could take Phillip's place in her heart. 'I'm not seeking a replacement for my husband.' 'Perhaps you should, dear.'" The Civil War split families apart and left many without husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and unfortunately Caroline turns out to be one left without a husband. Heading west from Missouri would add even more challenge and likely hardship to Caroline's life but it would give her a fresh start. A different sort of prejudice is experienced in the third book. Caroline turns to God and the church for her answers. Could her enemy, one who may have even killed her husband, be the one to lead her on the greatest adventure of her life? If you want an exciting, fast-paced historical romance, then this is a wonderful choice. 5 Stars again!!!
This omnibus is top-notch and left me wanting to keep on reading and just leave the world behind me.
I received a free copy of this book from bloggingforbooks in exchange for my honest review.
This is a quick read, but novellas can have a bit of a rushed feeling to them in order to get as much of a story into the shortened work as possible. That means that sometimes there is an abrupt change of feelings within characters that does not seem quite natural. To go with the sewing theme, some of the seams did not quite fit as well when segued into the next storyline. There was nothing glaring, but a few times I did wonder how a character reached the point they did with their feelings.
The characters that are highlighted with stories of their own did not always behave like my first impression of them as we get to know them better, but it's like that with real people. However, I would have liked a greater exploration into the "whys" of some of their thoughts and actions. At times I was more intrigued by secondary characters than I was the primary ones, but I guess that leaves room for more of them to have stories of their own. I have always enjoyed finding characters I know living in other stories, but, for some reason, none of these really endeared themselves to me. So, while I have recommended the book to others I know who have an interest in that time frame or in the friendships of women who become friends through a common interest, it was only an average read for me. It was good, but not, "I can't wait til the next book" good.
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
Mona Hodgson in her new book, "The Quilted Heart" published by WaterBrook Press gives us Three Novellas in One.
From the back cover: Like a beautiful patchwork quilt, the three novellas in The Quilted Heart tell stories of lives stitched together with love and God's unending grace.
Once a week, Elsa Brantenberg hosts the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse on the outskirts of the riverside town of St. Charles, Missouri. The ladies who gather there have all experienced heartache related to the intense hardships of the Civil War, and together, they are facing their painful circumstances with friendship and prayer. Can the tattered pieces of their hearts be stitched together by God's grace?
Dandelions on the Wind
When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg's St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. But when Gabi's father, Rutherford "Wooly" Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren, and she feels compelled to find another job. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan?
Bending Toward the Sun
Dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, Emilie Heinrich is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie's eye and her heart. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?
Ripples Along the Shore
Change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boone's Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed Caroline's husband. Despite her dislike for him, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new, but when Mr. Cowlishaw forbids herâ€”a single womanâ€”to travel with them, will one man's prejudice destroy Caroline's hope for a new future? Or will the ripples of God's love bring the answer she needs?
Welcome to St. Charles, Missouri. The Civil War has been devastating to some of the women here and three of these women meet for quilting over at Elsa Brantenberg's farm. When they all come together it is more like a support group and each woman gets her own story It is amazing to me how differently the same event, in this case the Civil War, can affect individuals. Ms. Hodgson had done a wonderful job of bringing each woman to life and giving her a unique experience. We fall in love with these ladies and when they feel pain so do we. When they experience love we rejoice with them. Every character is so well portrayed we feel as though we are living in St. Charles with them. It is a sad thing when the book ends and we have to say goodbye to them. However we had a wonderful time with them between the pages so it is all worthwhile.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
These women touched my heart tremendously. I only wish this wasn't a collection of novellas! I would have loved to delve into each of their lives just a little bit more.
Dandelions on the Wind: Maren is a strong woman whose sight limitations do not limit her in life. Rutherford is a broken man coming home from the war to try to make amends. The main theme throughout the story is this: Grace cannot be earned, only given. The author does a good job of showing that theme throughout this story, as well as the book.
Bending Toward the Sun: This little novella touches on a tough subject for a short story - prejudice. Just as it exists in today's world, it existed after the war between states. Sometimes it takes a near tragic accident to overcome such obstacles and let the Lord guide your heart.
Ripples Along the Shore: This story touches closely to home for me. Caroline is a war widow, like me. Her emotions were very real to me and the author does an incredible job of portraying them. The main theme throughout this story is to humble yourself before the Lord so he can show you His plans.
Overall, this was a delightful collection of stories about being transformed. Just as these ladies learn from one another during their quilting circle, so we should learn: "A quilted heart is a transformed heart."
"Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." - James 4: 6-8
**Thank you Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**
Maren Jensen has no choice but to live alongside a widow and her young grandchild in St. Charles, Missouri. This kind but stern older woman has given her food and a home. Maren is grateful, but lonely. She longs for Denmark where her family resides. Maren's dwindling eyesight makes work difficult, and she's determined to change her fate. Life turns a corner though, when Mrs. Brantenburg's lost son-in-law returns from the Civil War looking for a new beginning. His appearance shakes up both Maren and Mrs. Brantenburg's lives on the farm.
Emilie Heinrich is busy as a store clerk for her father's general store. She's satisfied with her position, but her father doesn't think it's enough. He insists that she pursues lady's college, but she thinks otherwise. Her life is further complicated when she chances upon an old friend, Quaid Mcfarland. She's intrigued by his visit back to Missouri, and he in turn, is curious about Emilie. Her father, on the other hand, is not amused by either Quaid's return or his growing interest in his daughter.
Caroline Milburn is a young widow. Her husband died in the war fighting for the North. With no means, she's journeyed back to St. Charles, Missouri, to stay with her sister and her family. Living in new surroundings, she copes with her feelings and emotions. With her fiery red hair that matches her quick temper, it proves to be no easy task. Not to mention the attention from an ex-Confederate man by the name of Garret Colishaw. Caroline feels she is still in the process of healing, but she knows that there must be a new path for her to follow.
This is my first experience with the author of this book. I was curious and decided to give her a try. I did not regret doing so. I enjoyed journeying through all three of the stories compiled into this omnibus, but I related most with Emilie Heinrich's story. Mona Hodgson's writing is sweet and simple. It's a light read and you could finish it fairly quickly.
I particularly liked how Mona Hodgson matched the characters together in a quilting circle. I felt it was crucial for making the connections to all three women and for finding what the ladies learned from each other. I don't even know how to quilt, and this made me want to.
I felt there were a few problems with the adjoining plot lines. There was an issue in the third story that was addressed, but never fixed. I don't want to reveal what it was, but I felt disappointed that the author didn't finish it. The endings for all three stories felt too abrupt. I think they could've been longer.
The Quilted Heart is a pleasant romance filled with charm and the feeling of long-forgotten times. I found the facts on how men and women adjusted to the end of the Civil War fascinating. I could have read more on that part of history. I recommend The Quilted Heart by Mona Hodgson to the reader who enjoys an airy afternoon and a glass of iced tea (if it's spring or summer). For winter, I would suggest a cozy day with a blanket and a cat for company.
This book was provided to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.