Monday, August 15, 2011
Beyond All Measure
Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady's companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.
Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada's friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.
When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt's primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.
With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.
My Take: I really looked forward to this book and was not let down at all. The inside is as wonderful as its cover. It's amazing to me that this is Dorothy Love's debut novel. Now I can't wait for her new book, Beauty for Ashes. :o)
The characters are what make a book come alive for me and this has some gems. Ada is a southern belle by birth who grew up in the north. She wants to be independent, has the drive to start her own business, and a sort of stubborn pride that gets her into trouble on more than one occasion. She also is refined, doesn't know how to cook well, or drive a team of horses. She is smart, compassionate, beautiful and haunted by hurts and mysteries from her past.
Lillian is demanding, intelligent, and driven. She doesn't want to be cared for by anybody and resents that age and illness have made that necessary. She loves Wyatt very much and wants the best for him - and is very dedicated to other charitable causes as well. She loves God and encourages Ada to trust Him.
Sophie is like the perfect accessory to an outfit. In a way, I think her character made this book. She is a beautiful mulatto orphan girl Ada becomes attached to. She is a talented storyteller but not getting any education. Ada's relationship with Sophie bring out all the turmoil the city has been going through and shows both the best and worst of Hickory Ridge.
Then we come to Wyatt. He's handsome, funny, charming, dedicated to Lillian and very good at his business. He's still bothered by memories of the war and nurses resentment towards the person who ruined his father. He's very generous and normally fair-minded but he can be stubborn.
I fell in love with the people in Hickory Ridge and can't wait to read more about them in her next book. This one goes on my favorites list. I hope you'll put it on your list if you haven't read it already.