New books by my favorite authors always make me happy. It’s the little things in life, right? 🙂 This time, The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz surpassed my already high expectations. I have heard a few other reviewers use the adjectives “beautiful” and “poignant” to describe it. They are most definitely right, and I’m going to add “heartfelt characters” and “grand setting” to the list!
Book summary: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?
Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.
*on to the enthusiastic review*
Laura Frantz has a unique gift of storytelling which engulfs the reader in the story completely. From the very beginning, I was caught up in Sophie’s emotions: her relief that the war was over, her remaining uncertainty of what was to come, her longing for a family of her own. And, I think Laura Frantz used a new method to build romantic suspense in the story – tell the reader two characters will get together in the summary, then put it off longer than expected! At least, it was a little longer than this reader wanted. But all good things are worth the wait. ❤
Both Sophie Menzies and Seamus Ogilvy were very strong characters. She, used to living with little, was unfairly caught between two sides of society and left to the mercy of others. He was trying to readjust to life after the war and find his way back into his little girl’s life. It was precious how Sophie’s newfound companionship with little Lily Cate united her in purpose with Seamus in his efforts to be a good father.
Seamus’s time in the war had left him seemingly stern and abrupt at times (on the outside), but he was so sweet with Lily Cate! That’s what made me like him even more. Readjusting to the role of father or friend had to be hard during that era for returning soldiers used to commanding others. As the story progressed, Seamus proved to be very caring and tender. His strong determination and choice to face whatever tough decision might come were more reasons to love him.
I enjoyed seeing how these characters grew and changed because of their circumstances and influence on each other. For instance, Sophie brought out a different side of Seamus, an intensity and honesty. She encouraged him to lean on his faith in a different way than he had considered. Her experiences gave her a self confidence and renewed trust in God’s mercy. And, Lily Cate’s childlike trust in both Seamus and Sophie made them stronger.
Along with all the reasons I love this story, I want to tell you one teeny-tiny thing I didn’t like about the finished version of it. That is, the back cover summary made me think there would be somewhat of a love triangle, maybe with a previous love interest. This is happily not quite the case. So don’t let the summary discourage you if you don’t like love triangles, because this is NOT that type of story.
The way Scriptures and truths are woven in this story is beautiful. (I know, I’m overusing the word beautiful). A hint at truth being freeing, new mercies given each morning, and children being a gift from God are just a few examples.
There is an intensity to this story and an uncertainty which keeps the plot moving forward.The small element of suspense was very well executed by Laura. I don’t want to say more for fear of revealing too much, but I’ll say after a few particularly agonizing pages, I think I was holding my breath!
Laura Frantz sets the bar high for her genre — and keeps raising it– with each book! If you are new to historical fiction, Christian fiction, or new to Laura Frantz, this book is a perfect place to start.
A sincere thanks to Revell Publishers and Laura Frantz for a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Great review friend! I really loved this one too. I also agree the back description doesn’t do the story justice. (I also think the cover doesn’t either). This will be on my reread list for sure!!
Thanks, Jamie! I’m glad you agree that the description is a little lacking. I will read anything Laura writes (she is so awesome), so it’s not really an issue for me, but it could have been better. And I know what you mean about the cover – it doesn’t stand out enough in its genre.
Yes, I will eventually reread this one! I think it’s one I will enjoy just as much the second time, knowing how everything plays out. It’s a favorite from this year, for sure. Thanks for coming by to share your thoughts!
I was surprised at the length of time that passed before certain events came to pass (give the back cover), but it didn’t wind up bothering me. The story was just too good to let anything annoy. Bravo to Laura! 🙂
I know what you mean 🙂 I was ready for that certain event, given the hints at Sophie’s true feelings along the way and the certainty in the summary. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, too!
Dear Courtney, I can’t tell you what a JOY it is to visit your lovely site here for the first time – mockingbirds are dear to my heart! And your review really sings as well, in so many ways that delight and touch me. You really understand the heart of Sophie’s story and I’m so very thankful at the insights and thoughts detailed here. A real honor. Wouldn’t it be fun if we all could collaborate and design a cover and back cover copy for this book! I think it would be very different;)
You have a beautiful blog and review ministry. I’m so thankful for your heart for my books and Christian fiction. Hugs and thanks to Rissi and Jamie, too!
Laura, thank you so much for taking the time to read my review! I am so happy you “visited”. Sophie’s story is one of my favorites of yours so far. AND one of my favorite books of 2015, for sure. But Courting Morrow Little is still my absolute favorite!
If only we could collaborate for that back cover copy 🙂 But that’s OK, the story inside is fabulous, and that’s what counts. All the more reason for us reviewers to spread the word, right?
Again, thank you for your encouragement. And congratulations on the new release!
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I’m reading this book now and I’m REALLY enjoying it.
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