To Whisper Her Name is a beautiful blend of historical fact, real life people and fictional characters that gives us a glimpse into the South at a turbulent time, when freed slaves were unsure of their place in society and when people could be killed simply for trying to teach former slaves to read.
Tamera Alexander's exquisite research into the Belle Meade plantation in Nashville, and the people who lived and worked there, adds a wealth of dimension to the story. We are introduced to the Harding family by way of Olivia Aberdeen, a young widow, who comes to live there as a companion to Mrs. Harding. Through the character of Ridley Cooper, who procures a job in the famous Belle Meade stables, we see the working class side of society. His deep respect for the head horse handler, African American Bob Green, is unusual for a man from the South. But Ridley is hiding a terrible secretâ€”that he actually fought for the North. Olivia and Ridley's wonderful love story winds through the pages like a lovely melody.
Ms. Alexander brings history to life with her rich portrayal of life in the South. Four hundred and seventy pages of her writing was not enough! One of the best books I've read to date!
Just when I thought I couldn't like Tamera Alexander and her books anymore (check out reviews here and here), she releases To Whisper Her Name, which just might have become my favorite.
I'm sure you're tired of me talking about anything related to the Civil War, but I just can't help myself, that era of history is fascinating, so its natural I read so many fiction novels in that time period.
Anyway, this story deals with Elizabeth and Ridley (how can you not like that name??) and takes place on Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, TN a couple of years after the war. I've actually visited Belle Meade on one of my trips to Nashville, so it was pretty awesome to be able to visualize some of the places in the book. Plus its about horses and I heart horses.
It's a great story of faith, love, forgiveness and life written in classic (and fantastic) Alexander style. It's not every book that will have me laughing out loud while reading. Definitely a keeper and one I highly recommend.
I have always wanted to read one of Tamera Alexander's books, and believe that her latest novel To Whisper Her Name, was a good place to start. Alexander's richly drawn characters and storyline really makes you feel included in the story, allowing you to experience the emotions and circumstances the characters are going through. Although the book has 473 pages and sixty chapters, which might put a few people off, Alexander's really descriptive detail makes the book flow really nicely, allowing everything to feel like it was supposed to be included, that without it the story would be incomplete.
Widow Olivia Aberdeen is shunned by proper society when her husband dies a traitor to the south and is left destitute when her brother-in-law takes everything away from her. With nowhere else to go, Olivia gratefully accepts an invitation from "Aunt" Elizabeth Harding, the mistress of Belle Meade Plantation, expecting to be given the role of head housekeeper. However upon her arrival, Olivia learns the real reason Elizabeth's husband, Confederate William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming.
Ridley Cooper, a southern son who is branded a traitor by some as he chose to fight for the Union, arrives at Belle Meade hoping to learn â€˜the gift' that Belle Meade's head horse trainer, Bob Green, possesses. However in doing so he endangers all those around him, including himself, for he gradually loses his heart to Olivia Aberdeen.
What I love about this story is that it was based around the American Civil War in the 1860s, however it did take a while for me to realise it. I believe that it proves to be a great basis for Christian principles because no matter what race or denomination people are, Christ still loves them, for he made them. This is exactly what the verse at the beginning of the novel points out- There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28. This leads onto my fondness of Ridley Cooper because he clearly, but cautiously, stands up for what he believes in, willing to risk his reputation, as well as those who know his secret. This therefore earns him a lot of respect for he, although not Christian, is a man of integrity. It is therefore no surprise that Olivia falls for him. But what I like about this relationship, although it is intimate, it doesn't take the spot light away from the post-Civil War repercussions.
Overall, To Whisper Her Name is a novel that is able to be enjoyed by those interested in history and romance fiction. Tamera has done a wonderful job crafting this story to be one that is truly enjoyable.
*PLEASE NOTE- I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.*