wanted to say that I really love working with these book blogging programs and getting the chance to review this latest title from Bethany House! I was quite pleased to be getting an 'advanced reader copy' to begin with but I can't tell you how utterly delighted I was to be asked to be a part of this special team to help promote the book more directly! It has been a great experience (that has even secured me a tin of yummy cookies from Christie's bakery in Nashville!) and one I won't soon forget!
If you have followed me (and this blog) for any amount of time you will no doubt know how utterly in love with Tamera Alexander's books and writing style I am. (And I'm sure that you can imagine the fangirling that took place when I got the email offering me this promotions opportunity!) It should be no surprise then that this review is going to be um, slightly biased...but I'll do my best to ahem, remain professional. :)
Set in post civil-war Nashville, "A Beauty So Rare" opens on the life of Eleanor Braddock. The war has changed life for Eleanor drastically, gone are her mother, her brother, her family's financial security, and- her father's mind. At nearly 30 years old unmarried, ordinary Eleanor has little else to loose as she sells off the home she grew up in and makes the humbling move into Nashville. Although she is living with, and under the good graces of, her Aunt the famed Adelicia Acklen in her stately home, Eleanor intends to be a burden on her aunt for as brief a time as possible. After her best laid plans for her future are dashed Eleanor finds work in a most unusual fashion- but as she begins to reach out to the widows and orphans that have flooded the city after the war Eleanor begins to learn that God may have more planned for her then she ever could have hoped for!
Also building a life for himself in Nashville is Marcus Gotfried a man with many hidden talents- and an equally hidden past. Hailing from Austria, Marcus has also come from another life and is working hard to create the kind of life that he wants to be proud of. With a talent for grafting and planting, a talent for architecture and building, and it seems- a talent for making Eleanor's head spin his options are seemingly wide open...but that may not be the true case. Even as his compelled return to Austria and his old life looms on the horizon Marcus tries his best to not form attachments to Eleanor- he knows something between them can never be- but as he helps her with her work and comes to know her better and better the more he rethinks the course he wants his life to really take.
You don't know how long I have been waiting for this book.
The last few years I have enjoyed the yearly pattern of a new Tamera Alexander book being released just weeks before my birthday- and the expectation that a freshly printed copy would soon be in my hands, but this last year the pattern changed on me and the late fall book I looked forward to was now to be due in the spring! Oh fudge. Well, now that spring is here so is Eleanor's story- a story that was well worth the wait! While it did take me a while to get through the 471 beautifully bound small type pages that really was due to the small children in my care not the story itself!
The story it self is lovely. The characters that Alexander creates are ones, from humble seamstress to highly acclaimed aunt, that one wants to know and to be friends with. One of the things that Tamera Alexander does so well is that she tells the story in front of her. I frequently find myself tiring reading some other authors because they are so heavy handed with plastering around backstory until the poor characters are mired deeply in pasts that need escaping. Not so with Alexander. Her characters and story telling style always stands 'as is'- she doesn't need to paint the details of the past in the heavy strokes that leave a reader burdened- but she lets you know, as in real life, that everyone has a past and everyone is moving forward day by day. It is something that I think we often need reminded of and something that is a particular theme of this book. Eleanor is someone who has been touched by national division, the death of loved ones, the loss of expectations and now dreams, and who is now experiencing the tragedy of dementia in her father. But these things do not cripple her. Despite the weight she moves forward step by step as God opens and closes the doors of her life according to his plan for her.
|My favorite quote from the book! All ready for Pinning!|
The cherry on top for this book is the personal connection that is offered. This volume has a good list of book club discussion questions in the back that are just begging to be used! Online at Alexander's blog is several recipes that were featured in the book including the savory custard, buttermilk pie, and shortbread. Given the opportunity I would love to put both of these to use myself! (Friends, let me know if your interested in a party!) Also of note listed in the back is all the many ways one can contact the author yourself. I personally follow her on Facebook and really enjoy the thoughts she shares in her posts! I recommend you connect with her too!
All in all, Tamera Alexander has once again produced a flawless book. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy for your summer reading and enjoyment and take a few hours off from the bustle of everyday life to step back in time and discover "A Beauty So Rare".
Final Rating: 5 stars
For my followers~ be sure and check back in here next week where I'll be hosting my second giveaway! It's not to be missed!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and opinion of the product.