A Hearth in Candlewood
by Delia Parr
Trade Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: August 1, 2006
Source: Free ebook promotion.
Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Emma Garrett presides over Hill House, a stately boardinghouse in the canal village of Candlewood, New York. She finds her purpose in caring for her guests. But when a "runaway grandma" lands on her doorstep, Emma's need to fix every wrong places her in the midst of a family feud.
Emma's concerns heighten when her attorney, Zachary Breckenwith, delivers life-changing news that her impulsive purchase of Hill House was never legally recorded and she doesn't truly own the house, not to mention that she's lost the money she used to purchase it. With her future suddenly uncertain, Emma longs to restore the peace of Hill House--for her guests and within her own heart.
Hearth in Candlewood is a Christian historical novel set in the 1840s in a small canal town in New York. It's the first novel in the series, but while I was reading it I wondered if it was the 9th or 10th in the series since there were so many interesting stories briefly referred to as back story.
I really enjoyed the characters and setting. I found the vivid details about the time and setting to be interesting and they brought the story alive in my imagination. The characters acted in realistic ways, and there was an underlying humor to the book. I liked how Emma would scold someone for how they behaved, then realize she needed to apologize for something she'd done and so have to go back and humble herself. Though she "said a prayer" a few times or would realized her behavior wasn't Christ-like, the novel wasn't preachy. Her faith obviously had an impact on how she acted, though she obviously still had much to learn about faith.
There were two sources of suspense: the conflict about the "grandma's" sons (which Emma was calm about solving, so I assumed it'd work out) and the suspense about her not really owning the house. I would have been okay with the book ending without resolving the house problem if we hadn't been told that the true owner was expected to arrive any minute and make his decision...and then the book ends. I don't like "cliff-hanger" endings. I feel like the author doesn't believe their writing is enough to draw the readers back and so they feel they have to resort to tricks.
The story also lost a bit of charm for me over the whole chicken scenario. I've owned chickens for year. I just can't imagine anyone--even "village folk"--being terrified of a hen calmly sitting on a table. Yet all the characters are! Also, chickens don't ruin everything they look at (like a hat that fell off as a man dashed by) or sit on (like some riding trousers). I took me out of my immersion in the story, though it probably won't be a problem for others.
There was no bad language or sex. Overall, I'd recommend this charming, engaging story.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.