Refining Emma is the second book of the Candlewood Trilogy by Delia Parr, the first one being A Hearth In Candlewood.
Emma Garrett is a widow who sold her general store in Candlewood and bought the Hill House, a boardinghouse on the outskirts of the town. Disregarding the advice of her lawyer, Zachary Breckenwith, he then resigns as her lawyer to become a more permanent part of her life.
The beginning of the book finds Emma in a predicament concerning her boardinghouse, the town has a tragedy befall it, and the story is spun quite masterfully to the ending, around these events and the people involved. The characters are real, well-defined, and present a lasting image to the reader, as do the vivid descriptions of the scenery. The story begins with a secret, which is revealed, and ends with one that should be revealed in the third novel of the series.
Mother Garrett is Emma's mother-in-law, who presents a stoic and cautious look at life. Reverend Glenn is a permanent resident, and two teenage girls work and live at Hill House to earn money to help their families.
The town's tragedy caused a housing need for families, so Emma opens her Hill House to as many as she can, including Lester and Oralynne Burke, a brother and sister team who prove to be the nemeses that their track record shows. Emma's refining has much to do with her attitude towards these two characters.
There are comical moments at Hill House, but the more serious ones stand out, as the spiritual aspects are sought by Emma, her mother-in-law, and Aunt Frances, guided by the Reverend.
It would be helpful to read the first book in the series, but the story line can be picked up quickly through the author's careful weaving of previous events and characters of Candlewood.
It was helpful for this reader to pick up the book in my "nostalgia" room, making the story even more real to me. Historical novels are appealing, and Delia Parr has written ten thus far.
It is a must-read for those who like to picture the past with its hard-working people and the simpler lifestyle, along with the refined romanticism. Emma Garrett's children and grandchildren are introduced through her thoughts, but I assume that they will be a large part of a future novel. Sharon I. Rideout, Christian Book Previews.com