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.
The Quilted Heart Omnibus by Mona Hodgson is three novellas in one book that are set in St. Charles, Missouri in 1865. What a wonderful collection of stories this is!
Dandelions on the Wind
When Maren Jensen's mail-order bride arrangement falls through due to her failing eyesight, she finds a home with a widow, Elsa Brantenberg, and her granddaughter, Gabi.
But when Gabi's father unexpectedly returns from the army, Maren and Rutherford might just find that God has a plan for healing their hearts.
Bending Toward the Sun
Emilie is the daughter of the local general store owner. She has spent her life dedicated toward helping out in her father's store
She's happy for her co-worker and friend Maren who has found love and will be getting married soon.
But that leaves Emilie to wonder if there is love in her future, until Quaid McFarland reurns after the Civil War. This gives Emilie hope for her future until her father voices his opinion. Emilie's father does not bless the relationship between his daughter and an Irish man. How will her fathers opinion affect her future?
Ripples Along the Shore
Caroline Milburn lost her husband in the Civil War and is now living with her sister and her family.
When she learns that there is plans for a wagon train heading west she thinks that this just might be the new beginning she is looking for.
Garrett Cowlishaw, a former Confederate soldier, is the leader of the wagon train. He is smitten with Caroline. Even though he may never see her again, he can't risk allowing a single woman to take such an arduous journey alone.
When she is told that she will not be allowed to ride alone on the wagon train, her dreams of a new life in California are crushed.
A heart warming book with stories about three different women with unique challenges in their lives.
I just loved the characters in this story, they were strong and likable each in their own way, and learned along the way.
I received this book free from WaterBrook Publishing for an honest review.
About "Dandelions on the Wind" by Mona Hodgson, the first book in this collection.
"Tattered relationships and broken hearts, like a quilt, can be pieced together by God's love.
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 "Woolly" Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren. Despite the failing eyesight that caused her suitor to reject her, she can see that Woolly desperately needs to reconnect with the family he abandoned when his grief sent him running toward the armyÃ¢â¬âand into the Civil War. She also senses there could be something more between the widower and herself, if either can move beyond their past hurts.
Comforted and counseled by the wisdom of the women in her beloved quilting circle, Maren begins to discover the cost such decisions demand of her heart. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan? Is it too late for love to be stitched into the fabric of her life?"
Series: Book #1 in the Ã¢â¬ËQuilted Hearts' series (book #2 & #3 scroll down) Has sequel series "Hearts Seeking Home", book #1 in that series Here!)
Spiritual Content- Psalm 119:105 in the front; Scriptures are quoted; Prayers are said; Maren trusts God with her sight and says so.
Negative Content- Rutherford/Woolly has two flash backs about raids, neither of them detailed.
About "Bending Towards the Sun" by Mona Hodgson, the second book in this collection.
"Can the Divine Quilter stitch together the torn pieces of Emilie's heart?
Divided between the love of her father and the desires of her heart, Emilie Heinrich must rely on the love and wisdom of the women in her quilting circle for support. Since Emilie is dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, she 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.
Quaid McFarland has a gentleness and humor that causes Emilie to question her indifference toward romance. But her German father sees only one thing when he looks at the young man: an Irish teamster. And Johann Heinrich is not about to let such a man court his beloved daughter.
Her father's prejudices test Emilie's faith in God's ability to mend the patchwork pieces of her life. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own?"
Series: Book #2 in the Ã¢â¬ËQuilted Hearts' series (book #1 scroll up & #3 scroll down) Has sequel series "Hearts Seeking Home", book #1 in that series Here!)
Spiritual Content- Proverbs 4:23 in the front; Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 Samuel 16:7; Emilie has a Faith but Quaid is re-learning to trust God in all things
Negative Content- N/A
Sexual Content- When Quaid sees Emilie he wonders when she "_got tall_and shapely?"; Kisses
About "Ripples Along the Shore" by Mona Hodgson, the third & last book in this collection.
"Can a War Widow Escape Her GriefÃ¢â¬âand Find God's PromiseÃ¢â¬âon a Wagon Train West?
When Caroline Milburn steps off the boat and back into her hometown of St. Charles, MO, part of her wishes she could step right back on board and sail away. St. Charles, though home to her beloved friends and quilting circle, hasn't felt like home since the death of her husband. And living with her sister, Jewell's family hasn't provided much balm for her grieving heart. Caroline knows something needs to changeÃ¢â¬âbut for now she's stuck sharing her sister's home, and enduring the anger and bitterness of her brother-in-law.
But change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boones Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw. Despite her dislike for Mr. Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed her husband, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new.
When the lovely young widow makes her intentions to travel west known, Garrett Cowlishaw forbids herÃ¢â¬âa single womanÃ¢â¬âto 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?"
Series: Book #3 in the Ã¢â¬ËQuilted Hearts' series (book #1 & #2 scroll up) Has sequel series "Hearts Seeking Home", book #1 in that series Here!)
Spiritual Content- James 4:10 in the front; Caroline & Garret pray and go to church; Caroline feels like she's not as strong in her Faith as she was and goes to church and feels better.
"The Quilted Heart" is the first work by Mona Hodgson that I've had the privilege to read. It's a collection of three novellas, and overall I enjoyed reading them. I do have some mixed feelings, though. I'll start by telling you what I loved!
In these novellas, Hodgson introduces us to a community. I enjoyed getting to know her characters and seeing them interact with one another. I was especially fascinated on a personal note because the book is set in St. Charles, Missouri, just after the civil war. My own ancestors settled near there and would have been in the area at the time in which this book is set. It was fun to imagine them being a part of a community such as the one Hodgson describesÃ¢â¬âin a way, she helped me get to know them.
I also appreciated the quilt theme. The women in these stories meet once a week for fellowship while quilting. One of the older women in the group mentors them as they discuss their life concerns. She teaches them that life is like a quilt made of fabric scraps. You take the scraps God gives you and assemble something beautiful. Sometimes God presents you with a scrap that doesn't seem to fitÃ¢â¬âwrong shape, wrong color. You want to reject it, but you can't. Instead you must give it to Him and let Him show you what He has in mind. His plan for your quilt is perfect, but you must trust Him.
Each character in "The Quilted Heart" has an "odd fabric scrap" to work with, so we see this concept in action as characters choose how to handle the events and circumstances of their livesÃ¢â¬âsome in positive ways, some not so much.
My concerns with the book had to do with development. As I mentioned, "The Quilted Heart" is a series of three novellas. Each of these could easily have been a full-length novel, and I would have loved that! As it was, it seemed the author just didn't have enough time or space to develop everything naturally. Conflicts were resolved too quickly and easily. Circumstances that would have been huge challenges in real life were glossed over as if not really a big deal. Relationship that usually take months to develop became intense in weeks, days, even at first sight.
Further, the series doesn't end. The third novella is actually a prequel to the author's next series, though it isn't identified as such. Questions were raised, but never answered. To enjoy the new series, it will be important for readers to have the information from this one. Yet this one is incomplete. I don't mind series being interrelated. Yet, though connected, each series should be somewhat self-contained. I felt disappointed when I reached the end of The Quilted Heart.
I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I am curious now to read some of Mona Hodgson's full-length works.
I really enjoyed this collection of three novellas
February 8, 2014
Grand Prairie, TX
The Quilted Heart is a collection of three novellas: Dandelions on the Wind, Bending Toward the Sun and Ripples Along the Shore. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the full-length novel, Prairie Song, last year, I was really excited to read these three introductory stories. I was not left disappointed. These three smaller stories are a great lead-in to the larger book.
In Dandelions on the Wind, my very favorite story of the three, Maren Jensen has a choice to make. She has failing eyesight and things have not worked out here in America as she had originally hoped when she sailed from Denmark four years earlier. She learns to trust that God's plans are not always the plans that we have for ourselves. I also enjoyed the beautiful story of reconciliation, when Rutherford "Wooly" Wainwright returns after leaving suddenly four years earlier, besieged by grief.
In Bending Toward the Sun, Emilie Heinrich and Quaid Macfarland renew an old friendship and love begins to bloom. But Emilie's father has other plans for her and is not in favor of a courtship. Is it possible for Emilie and Quaid to ever find happiness together while still honoring her father's wishes? This book deals with prejudice and asks the question of how does God really see people. This novella ended before I expected it too, however, their story continued on in the next novella nicely.
In Ripples Along the Shore, we mainly follow the situation of Caroline Milburn, a war widow. She is facing tough choices about where her life is headed. She can stay in an uncomfortable situation with her sister's family, try to make a life on her own in town, or attempt to join a wagon train that will be leaving in a few months. Garrett Cowlishaw complicates things for Caroline when he forbids her to join. But she is determined to find a way to go. This was a very good story that flows very well into the larger novel Prairie Song. This novella comes to an end without complete resolution for Caroline, as well as for Anna, another character who we follow in this book. This type of ending would not have set well with me if I did not already have knowledge of how things end up working out in the full-length novel, Prairie Song. My advice to readers of this collection is to have a copy of Prairie Song nearby because it will be a must read at the end of Ripples Along the Shore.
All of these novellas were written so beautifully. They just drew me in and kept me reading. The characters dealt with big issues and all three novellas were tied together so nicely, with one story flowing into the next. I do have to say that I am glad to have a copy of Prairie Song, because I had to pick it up again as soon as I finished reading this novella collection and read more about Caroline and Anna's stories. I very much enjoyed this collection.
I received a complimentary copy of The Quilted Heart from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.