My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: 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.My Take: This is the second book by Meissner I have read and I enjoyed it very much. Once again, she has amazed me with her historical knowledge and her ability to reframe marriage and love. In this book, she escorts the reader back to the Civil War in Fredrickson, Virginia. This was my favorite part of the book - going to the past. Susannah, the mysterious ancestor. What struck me with this part of the story is the sacrifices the women made while the men were fighting. This town is completely devastating in a physical sense in the fighting between North and South. Most homes were decimated. Holly Oak, the family home, suffers to a much lesser degree. In the present day, all that remains is a cannon ball in the brick and timber. The truth is that the soldiers did horrible damage to the town, the homes, businesses, and women. What the women did for the men they loved involved great sacrifice. The faces of love are explored and exposed. Very nicely written.
Ultimately, not only is love explored (enduring, long-suffering, growing, and romantic kinds of love), but characters develop the depth that real people have. No one person can be surmised in a single sentence or paragraph. Circumstances, life experiences, and personalities often dictate their choices. But ultimately it does come down to choice and free agency. Caroline, one of the modern day protagonists teaches this concept when she returns.
Excellent lessons to be learned. Interesting history. Modern day story, although relevant, was not as endearing to me as Susannah's story. Still, a very worthwhile read.