Blogs by Holly Weiss
A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner: A Review
10/5/2011 5:49:30 AM
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Online dating vs. the Civil War shelling of downtown Fredericksburg. Modern day women sewing Civil War Reenactor’s uniforms.Meissner excels and ghosts hover in this newly-published blend of contemporary and historical fiction.
A cannonball wedged in the north wall of Holly Oak. The quiet elegance of the old mansion disguises the trauma the antebellum house suffered in the Civil War. Who is the ghost in the cellar—Susannah, rumored to be a Civil War spy for the north, or Union soldiers buried there?
Marielle Bishop marries into the superstitious Bishop family. Little does she know what awaits her when she leaves her southwestern home. Marielle lives in a beautiful mansion surrounded by the shadow of her husband’ first wife, the ghost in the cellar, and the contempt of Adelaide, her great-grandmother-in-law. Holly Oak itself seems to demand penance from the women who live there. Heavy burdens for all.
Susan Meissner is an award-winning writer and speaker. Publishers Weekly named her novel The Shape of Mercy one of the Best Books of 2008. Lady in Waiting, published in 2010, is a perfect example of her ability to combine contemporary and historical fiction. When Ms. Meissner is not working on a new novel, she is directing small groups ministries at The Church at Rancho Bernardo.
The book releases on the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War as a remembrance of the women behind the battles. Ms. Meissner doesn’t miss a beat. Characterizations and plot are set in motion immediately. Well-crafted dialogue draws us into the mystery surrounding the antebellum mansion. The subtle use of subtext whispers us deeper into the puzzle. The novel expertly blends the present day with hints of the past until the real Civil War story is revealed at the end. A reader’s guide is included for book groups. The ghost haunts many pages of the book, but the real presence in A Sound Among the Trees is that of a writer who excels at her craft. Highly recommended.
WaterBrook Press graciously supplied the advance review copy for my unbiased opinion.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont.
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