My love for Susan Meissner and her writing started with The Shape of Mercy. It's been 3 1/2 years since I read that book, but I still list it among my favorites and have been hard-pressed to find another book that I have enjoyed as much. Here's a quote from that original review, that totally fits for A Sound Among the Trees as well:
This book is a perfect blend of contemporary and classical and it draws the two together in such a way that I was hooked from the very first page!
The following year, I had opportunity to read and review White Picket Fences. Once again, I found myself totally drawn in to the book, it's characters, and the historical content. I ended that review with these words:
I am impressed, once again, with Susan's ability to share about a true historical event, while sharing a fictional story. So far, both of her books have left me longing to know more about these stories of our history, and sent me in search of further information. Since I'm a researcher at heart, these books are right up my alley!
Lady in Waiting arrived last year, at a time when I was too busy to do the review, so I passed it along to my mom. Once again, Susan has woven a modern day story with historical facts to create a book that my mom could not put down. In her words:
This was a very good, very exciting book. I must say it is one of the best books I have ever read! It will be hard to follow this one up!
So, that brings me to A Sound Among the Trees . . . and Susan has done it again! She has certainly created a place for herself on my list of favorite authors. I absolutely adore history; but so many of the more recent historical fiction books that I have read are all the same story, just with different names, locations, etc. Not so with Susan's books.
She has a unique way of telling a historical story - in this case it's the Civil War - yet weaving it with a modern-day fictional tale. So, we find several generations of women residing in this old home that has weathered the war. And we're introduced to the possibility of haunting and ghosts. Yet, in the end, we find that none of those things are the issue at all - it's really a matter of the heart (and mind).
I loved each and every character in this book. Marielle, who just "happened" upon this house, through marriage. Adelaide, who is haunted by the past and the decisions of her ancestors. Susannah, who we come to know intimately through letters she wrote to her cousin during the war. And all the supporting characters as well - even they play a significant role in combining past and present.
I am now anxiously awaiting Susan's next book - The Girl in the Glass - set to release this September.
Susan - you have a real gift for storytelling! I hope you continue to write great tales of love, loss, history, and healing. I will continue to read your books as long as you write them!
Four women must learn to live with the choices that they have made. They are learning not to dwell on the past but to move on and live well. ...For some it takes a lifetime.
The action centers around an old southern mansion, Holly Oak. Adelaide is almost 90 years old, but still very strong mentally and physically. Caroline, her daughter, ran away from home as a teenage and has only come back a few times. One of these times she left her daughter with her mom. Adelaide raised her granddaughter from a baby, but lost her four years ago to complications with a pregnancy. Adelaide owns this home, Holly Oak, that some people consider to be haunted by her great grandma, Susannah. Susannah was a young woman was torn between family and love during the Civil War. Marielle moved from Arizona and marries into this historical family. She hears stories of Susannah's ghost and she hears Adelaide's superstitions about the house, but she wants to know the truth. So, is it a ghost story? ...My lips are sealed! ;)
I love the way the author Susan Meissner includes a historical fiction story in her contemporary novel. Her characters are real and messy and dealing with hard issues. My favorite in this novel is Susannah - I would be very interested in a whole book just on her!
Make sure you check out Susan Meissner's web site at susanmeissner.com and sign up for her "Soozletter". She is also on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/SusanMeissner. She is one of my new favorite authors, and I would highly recommend her books to all.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books, Waterbrook Multnomah Publisher's book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
My Review: Having read The Shape of Mercy I was excited at the opportunity to read another Susan Meissner story. This story followed the story of Susannah Page and her influence in the life of Marielle Bishop today. I enjoyed the characters in this story, especially Adelaide, at 90 she was still sharp as they come and making Confederate soldier uniforms for re-enactments. Yet she carried a heavy burden from the past. As her grandson-in-law remarries and brings his new wife home to Holly Oak.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, though I found the story line with Eldora a little disturbing. I wouldn't call this book overtly Christian though before it ends there is talk of the importance of forgiving one another and ourselves. And there were characters in the story that ended the story better people than they were at the beginning.
I can't tell you my favorite part of the story without giving away too much. But there is a section that was so enjoyable to read and visualize the events of that the author described. She did a masterful job of drawing you into the events and allowing you to feel many emotions.
I must admit I didn't enjoy this story as much as The Shape of Mercy but I found it not only an enjoyable read, but I have a better understanding of the Civil War and how hard that time was for our country.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was only obligated to provide my honest opinion of this story.
This book is a great read for someone who can read quickly. I thought the plot moved rather slowly, but the story line is great...mixing the present with the past. It isn't exactly a haunted house story like you would expect, but rather the story of a haunted family with a house full of generational secrets.
It took me a few tries to really get into this book. I would pick it up, start reading, and quickly get distracted. I would set the book aside. The next time I wanted to read, I'd find something else. This went on a few times until about 4 days ago. I was determined to get past the part that I had read and reread over and over. I know that Susan Meissner is a wonderful author, and I had high hopes for this book. But for some reason, that first chapter did nothing to entice me. I was definitely glad I kept going though.
Marielle Bishop moves from Arizona to Fredericksburg, Virginia when she marries Carson. She agrees to live at Holly Oak, since that is the only home Carson's two children have known. She knows there will be challenges, there always are in blended families. But the challenges she faces are not those she anticipated.
Meet Adelaide McClane, the eccentric elderly woman who owns Holly Oak. She is convinced that the house is "stuck". She uses a scratched record as an example of "stuck". Imagine a record, one of the older ones played on an actual record player. If it gets scratched, it has a hard time playing. It will get to that scratch and play the same part over and over. This is what Adelaide thinks has happened to the house. It is stuck and cannot seem to get past what happened during the Civil War. Susannah Page, Adelaide's great-grandmother, lived at Holly Oak during that time. She is now thought to be haunting Holly Oak, determined to make up for her past as a Yankee spy.
Marielle begins searching for the truth. Is Susannah still with them at Holly Oak? Or is the house stuck in time, not knowing that 150 years have passed since a cannonball struck it's side during a battle? Her focus becomes uncovering the truth and bringing the light of day to buried secrets.
Once I got past that first chapter, being introduced to the different characters that make up "A Sound Among the Trees", I was hooked. I had a hard time putting it down after that. I would recommend this book to any of my friends, especially those who enjoy reading a bit about the past, and how it effects the future.