Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
Why This Book:
I am a HUGE fan of Pepper Basham’s writing and will pretty much read anything she writes.
The opening line of this novel reminded me of Jane Austen’s opening line for Pride and Prejudice. It’s one that immediately intrigues and begs to be repeatedly quoted. The opening scene drew me immediately into Sadie’s world and had me instantly rooting for her. I couldn’t wait to see where her story led.
This novel has two main storylines–a contemporary storyline and a historical storyline. Thus there are two sets of couples whom the reader will fall in love with. The historical set include Sadie Blackwell and Oliver Camden. The second set includes Clara Blackwell, but I don’t want to give too much away by revealing her hero’s name. What I will say is that both couples are endearing, relatable, and the kind you can’t help rooting for.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
I have to admit that after the first scene or two, my attention wavered with this story. But in all fairness, I have been going through a tough time, so it’s possible my lack of page turning may have more to do with life than the story. However, I think the first quarter of the book following the opening scene took a rather gentle pace. I felt myself wishing more would happen sooner. At about the 65% mark is where it started picking up again for me. I think this is a book meant to delve in and wrap yourself in the details while perhaps I was more in the mood for something with more action. As for emotional engagement… this is a tough one for me to comment on without revealing spoilers. What I can say is that Hope Between the Pages runs the gamut from making the reader laugh to making them reach for a box of tissues. At one point my husband walked in while I was reading this and immediately asked me what was wrong. I can’t share what I told him without spoiling things so let’s just say that I blamed it on a Basham book. 😉
Elements I Especially Liked/Disliked:
I adored the relatable, layered, unique characters in this novel. Basham also did an excellent job of keeping the reader oriented between timelines. And with the amount of details she poetically wove throughout the story, if you didn’t feel you were right there with the characters, you weren’t paying attention. That said, the only way to explain what I disliked about the story without giving spoilers is to say that it is not your typical romance and it made me cry way more than I prefer stories to do. I am not a reader who wants this type of emotion from her novels. My philosophy is that I get enough sadness from life. I don’t need it in my novels. BUT I recognize that that is an entirely personal choice. And I think that there are other readers who want and maybe even need these types of stories. So I want to emphasize that everything about how Pepper handled these unnamed situations in her story was beautifully and skillfully done. If you’re okay with a book that requires a box of tissues at your side, this could be the story for you.
As always with Basham’s novels, the faith element is subtle yet glowing in its beauty.
So… the ending… well… I think I will refer you back to my comments on elements I especially liked/disliked.
“I stared into the face of a kindred spirit. Another soul who understood the power of story and imagination and of worlds beyond the borders of a binding.”
“He annihilated the usual distance between my class and his with the ease of a kind word and a smile.”
“If a person could touch a soul with a look, something in his touched mine.”
“Some dreams were meant for us to carry alone. Others were made to share.”
“Maybe Clara was dreaming, lost inside of a storybook in her head, because this little taste of romance captured almost every daydream she’d ever imagined.”
“I’d forgotten that imagination gives me so much more than the ability to fall into the world of a book. It motivates my dreams, inspires remarkable love, and helps me see beyond this world to a greater one.”
This beautifully and skillfully written dual timeline romance is perfect for the reader who doesn’t mind needing a box of tissues at the ready, wants to feel immersed in a fictional world, and loves cheering for endearing characters.
Have you read any of Pepper Basham’s previous novels? Do you prefer historical or contemporary romances? How do you feel about books that make you cry?
Let me know in the comments below!
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Note: I was provided a free advance reader copy of this novel by the publisher via JustRead Tours, but was under no obligation to provide a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.