I know I’ve been a little remiss on my book reviews, and for that I apologize. In an effort to be conciliatory, today I’m sharing a sweet and special book with you. It’s called The Memory House by Linda Goodnight and it’s just the ticket for a rainy spring Saturday.
Set in Honey Ridge, Tennessee, in both the modern and Civil War eras, The Memory House is a story of love, motherhood, grief, and family. The book is a clear reminder that each of us must battle our own demons and write our own story. And that when we choose to trust and to look outside of our own problems to help someone else, we can find a way to overcome them.
Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley even though tragedy took both away years ago. Finding comfort and routine in the running of the Peach Orchard Inn with her sister, she lets the guests and historic place fill any voids left inside of her. For her there will be no more love of family, no pleasure of a man’s gentle kiss, no joy of a boy calling her Mommy. All that was taken away one fateful day. Her life is calm and unchanging until a stranger with secrets—and a young son—shows up in her town and disrupts her loneliness and her even keeled world.
There’s more to Eli Donovan than meets the eye. Released from prison and chasing redemption, he finds out that he has a young son with a summer fling. Finding out she’s died, Eli accepts reluctantly accepts responsiblity for care of the boy. With few prospects, he negotiates room and board in exchange for working at Peach Orchard Inn. As he fights to keep his past secret, his and Julia’s present is bound to collide, especially after they discover a series of Civil War era letters between the former mistress of the farm and a Union soldier who was billeted there. This long-dead romance connects Julia and Eli as unexplainable, yet hope-filled signs try to show them the way.
Goodnight does a good job with the dual storyline, which is no easy feat. There’s no confusion of time or voice. . Her characters are quite interesting and endearing, especially her portrayal of little Max. To me, the main gap in the book was in how the past and present characters related to each other, and how the magical element connects it all. This lack of depth did not detract, however, from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I would have liked to have read an entire book about the Civil War couple.
At first glance, The Memory House is a soft romance full of sweet words, kind people and beautifully vivid imagery. But you become more involved in the lives of Julia, Eli and Max (Eli’s son), and Charlotte and Will from the past, you’ll find that you become invested in their happiness. While all of these characters carry dark shadows within them, they’re not insurmountable if they find a way to be healed and brightened by opening up their hearts to another. Both divided and connected by time and place, the couples must figure out how to overcome their real and imagined barriers to find their right place in the world.
If you’re looking for a light and lovely (extremely wholesome) fiction read with values of love, family and kindness, then The Memory House is just for you.
Do you think you’ll pick it up? Buy it here.