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Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner





Description from Amazon.com: A house shrouded in time. A line of women with a heritage of loss. As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

First the disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Blogging for Books program. This program gives you free books in exchange for your honest, unbiased review.

Once I got started reading this book, it was hard to put down. At first, I expected this book to be mundane and proselytizing. I have never read anything by this author, but when looking at the reviews and descriptions, it seemed to have been filed under Christian fiction. I am not a Christian and my experience with Christian fiction has been a "DEFINITELY NOT FOR ME" kind of reaction due to the excessive cajoling and inaccuracies.
Then I expected this to be a horror/ghost story from the beginnings of Pearl's exclamations at the reception.

Happily, it wasn't either. This was a story of generations of a matriarchal driven family. This was a lesson about the ghosts of the past. It's modern in its acknowledgement of mental illness and perceptions. It's modern in how it makes you think about the own yokes we give ourselves through our inability to accept what is.

I didn't fall in love with the characters, but I was mesmerized by the story telling. It focuses largely on the great-grandmother, Susannah, and her experiences and how she was perceived by the townsfolk and her family. Civil War historical fiction is always fascinating as it is a chunk of United States history where we were not so united, where both sides were sticking to the ideals of our founding fathers, where families were torn apart by geography, politics, and a different view on how to live.

I enjoyed the epistolary section, which gave a first person point of view from Susannah and what exactly happened.

Overall, I think this book is about love. How it can encompass you, how it makes you forgive, how it lets you grieve, how it mends you, how it can be learned through joint experiences. It's about choices: learning to make them and learning to live with the choices you make. It isn't a lecture or a course study; it's a lovely little escape into someone else's family and how you can extrapolate from their stories to your own life.