I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a young man returned home from college and seeking to be himself, not a replica of his father, as he began working for his father's company. The differences between their beliefs cause him stress, as he knows he should honor his father, yet he eventually finds himself.
As the back of the book implies, lies and secrets can truly spoil a woman's good name. This story is about a woman who, in the face of disgrace, finds herself and her God. Ruth Axtell does an excellent job telling Espy and Warren's story. Her historical accuracy about how society was during that time period lent the story a deeper air.
I loved Espy's character. She is one of those people who is just genuinely happy, despite the circumstances. I admire that in her, and even when she was faced with difficulties, she kept her head up. Warren lends a new depth to the typical "male heir" character. Throughout the story, you can really see him struggle with what he was "born" to do and what the Lord is calling him to do. The emotions of each character were raw, which made the story more heartfelt.
Both characters had to learn to come to know the Lord on a whole new level. Espy struggled to escape the harshness and stigma of society. Yet, when she turned to the Lord for help, she found newness and cleanliness were with her all along. Warren's struggle to overcome what was expected of him and TRULY understand what God had in mind for him was inspiring.
Overall, I loved this book. If you're looking for a deep, heartfelt book about overcoming obstacles to find the grace and love of God, this is it!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Moody Publisher Blogging program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.*
Trying to better her life, Espy Estrada takes a position as house help in a local professor's home, and to her joy, the professor begins tutoring Espy after her work is done. Warren Brentwood, son of one the leading families of the town, has been groomed to take over his father's businesses since birth, but his heart is not for the business, and his father does not respect his ideas. In an effort to reach out to the young people who have fallen away from the church, the pastor pairs Espy and Warren to form a group. While Espy and Warren get along well, they come from two separate worlds - the haves and the have nots - and try as they might, Espy's friends mesh little with Warren's. Suddenly, a scandal sets rumors flying about Espy and the professor - will anyone, least of all Warren, believe her, or will her good name be tarnished forever?
A major contribution to Espy's ruined reputation is simply her class difference - she is poor, with a disreputable father and no prospects, while the professor holds a respectable position in town. Throughout the novel there are examples of class prejudice - Mr. Brentwood's instant dismissal of the Estradas based on looks alone, Christina's maneuvering in the church group to oust Espy and place the wealthy into all positions of power, the snubs of Mrs. Brentwood and her friends. However, the class prejudice goes both ways - Espy's friends abandon the wealthy to have ice cream and fun on their own, Alvaro dislikes Warren's authority, a poor woman refuses to accept charity from Warren and his sister. Crossing that gap is difficult, as the relationship between Espy and Warren proves; very few people are truly care about integrating the two groups. How often do we do the same with our own cliques and groups?
My first inclination is to defend Espy wholeheartedly - everyone is so busy accusing her that they do not bother to listen to what actually happened, and the injustice is infuriating. In this situation, Espy is not in the wrong; foolish, maybe, to be spending time alone with a man, but it is with his wife's knowledge and permission. However, looking back, I can see where Espy should have been more careful to promote a chaste image. It may have made no difference with the professor, but she tends to flirt with the young men who flock around her, so it is easy for people to leap to the conclusion that she would also flirt with a married man. While the rules of propriety have changed over the years, a good reputation is still something that, once lost, is incredibly difficult to regain. The story is a good reminder to be careful in our conduct.
Through Espy's experiences, Axtell includes a lot of points to ponder about modesty and reputation, but there is much more to the story than just that - Warren is on his own journey learning to follow God's lead, which is not necessarily his father's direction. I like where Espy and Warren's relationship goes - it does not necessarily start out well, but as they pursue God, it becomes purer, more loving, and more respectful; I can see them making it work. A strong novel with well-developed characters and a moving journey - 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you Moody Publishers for providing a free book in exchange for a review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
Espy Estrada is the oldest of the town drunk's eleven children. She left school early to get a job in the cannery to support her family. She and her next-oldest sister shoulder a lot of the burden of raising their younger siblings, as well as working alternating shifts so there is always someone home to look after the babies.
Warren Brentwood has had every advantage money can bring: an education, and a job in the family firm. But he find's he's boss in name only: his father still wants to make all the decisions, including who he should be seen with socially. Espy and Warren are thrown together when the pastor asks them to participate in a project to entice young people back into church, and they both find themselves looking forward to the meetings for more than the project _
I liked both Espy and Warren as characters. I often find the male lead character in a romance is less well-developed than the female, so it was good to meet a hero with a mind of his own, who faced his own set of internal and external conflicts rather than merely providing a foil for the heroine. That's not to say Espy was weak; quite the opposite. Her background has given her a strong personality and the ability to weather the storms of life. Well, most of them.
This is a Christian novel, and I thought the faith elements were particularly well done. At the beginning, it seemed that Espy and Warren attended church more out of habit than personal faith (especially with Warren, as church attendance was clearly an expectation in his social circle). But both characters grew spiritually as the novel progressed, in a way that felt natural for their characters.
Every now and again I read a book which is more than the sum of its parts. Her Good Name was one such book. While it was set in Maine in the 1890's, there were several themes that resonated today: the tendency for people to not believe the victim, especially if she is poor and female. The difficulty of reaching out to minister to people from the Ã¢â¬Ëother' side of the tracks (I suspect many contemporary mission efforts fail for much the same reasons). And the attitude to women in the workplace that still persists with some people (as though there was ever a time when women didn't work). This novel made me think about some of these deeper issues without resorting to sermonizing. Well done.
It is 1890 in Holliston, Maine. Esperanza Estrada is a smart young woman born on the wrong side of the tracks, and surrounded by ten other siblings she is just another one of "those Estrada's." Unable to further her education because she has to work to support her family, Espy struggles to make her way in the world. Wanting to expose herself to a more cultured, refined environment, and desperately wishing she had a higher education; she leaves her job at the cannery and takes a job at a local teacher's home as a maid.
Warren Brentwood III is the successor of his father's business, educated in the finest of colleges, and a gentleman. Only the finest life awaits him, with the respect and accolades that follow a successful business and family. But Warren doesn't feel the satisfaction of his accomplishments or the pride that his parents say he should feel. Yet when in the company of Espy, he feels alive and complete. So when rumors circulate about Espy and the respected professor, Espy flees the town, leaving Warren more alone than ever. Will Espy's good name be forever tainted? And will Warren ever be able to fill that hole in his heart that seems to grow ever wider in Espy's absence?
As usual, I had my doubts with a new author that everyone raves about. I don't want to be disappointed, so my expectations are pretty low when I try a new writer. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that while the book did not have a lot of historic portrayal of the time period, (Axtell didn't go on and on about the when and where), she did have a lot of character development in her story. The tale started with two immature characters that you really get to know and understand at the story's end. You find yourself rooting for them, and hoping the best for everyone involved. A story with a message deeper than your typical Christian romance.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.