A Tendering in the Storm (Change and Cherish Historical Series #2)
SUMMARY (as given by the publisher):
Based on a true story, this lyrical novel gives voice to a motherís fears for her family and a womanís search for her truest self.
In second book of the Change and Cherish series from best-selling author Jane Kirkpatrick, strong-willed Emma Giesy and her husband branch off from a close-knit and repressive German religious community of the 1850s to work and live independently in the remote coastal forest of the Washington Territory.
But when Emma suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant with her third child, this desperate mother makes a series of poor choices, hoping to ensure her familyís survival. She eventually finds herself entangled in grave circumstances, having fueled the fires of devastation with her own loss and disappointment. Can she rescue her familyís future from the embers of her actions?
Wondering if an angry God has abandoned her to the consequences of her willfulness, Emma must come to terms with her own vulnerability. As clouds of despair close in, she faces the difficult question of whether to continue in her own waning strength or to humble herself and accept help
from the very people she once so eagerly left behind.
Well, there’s certainly plenty of storms, but not a whole lot of tender. When I was given this book to review (I did not pick it out on my own), I missed two important points.
First, this is the second book with Emma as the main character, which isn’t exactly clear from the blurb. That’s fine–the author does a fine job of filling in the background information, so the first book isn’t exactly necessary.
Second, it is based on a true story. That right there should have set off warning bells. However, somewhere I had gotten the idea in my head that this was a historical romance (don’t know where the idea came from, other than the fact I rarely read any other kind of historical fiction.), so I went ahead and dug in.
Two days later I slammed the book shut and promptly went to read something, anything, with a happy ending.
As I pointed out in my review of Paths of Exile, the problem with writing about real people is that you are constrained by facts (Facts? We don’t need no stinkin’ facts). Therefore, you cannot always have a nice romantic happily-ever-after. I like romance. I like happily-ever-afters. I don’t like being depressed by my books (or movies for that matter). Life’s depressing enough as it is.
Other problems with the book:
- First person point of view. I really dislike first person books. I know they’re supposed to be more immediate, to draw the reader deeper into the character’s mind and soul. All they tend to do is distract and irritate me.
- Emma Giesy. I didn’t like her. I never connected with her, rarely felt anything for her at all. Occasionally had a “wife’s/mother’s worst nightmare” moment of connection, but that was more for the situation rather than Emma herself. In fact, Emma never seemed to grow and mature as a
woman. I certainly didn’t think she found “her truest self.” At the end it wasn’t so much that she “humble(d) herself and accept(ed) help” as she finally was forced in the only direction left open.
- The deal with Kiel. In the beginning, he’s painted as such a martinet. I had visions of a David Koresh/Jim Jones-type cult leader. Then, suddenly, he’s the good guy. The change almost came out of nowhere. Certainly took me by surprise.
- Flat, static characters.
To give her credit, Ms. Kirkpatrick’s writing is very good, nice and solid, with very vivid descriptions. I certainly can’t fault her research and knowledge of history. I’m sure lots of people really like her stories, considering she won the Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center and National Cowboy Hall of Fame. I’m sure those same people, those who like richly written, historically accurate, realistic and immensely depressing fiction are all over her books. But that ain’t me.
From my point of view, the plot stunk: girl has wonderful life, loses husband, marries an abusive man, almost loses her kids, and ends up in the tight-knit (and not in a good way) community she’d tried all her life to break away from. Oh joy. What a great story. Remind me to take my Wellbutrin before reading another book like that.
Ouch. So I guess I’ve been pretty rough on the book. But I don’t like books that make me cry, and I really, really, really don’t like depressing endings. That’s probably the bottom line. Not so much as a bad book as a bad book for me.
Ach je! They’ll probably never send me another book to review after seeing this one. But if they do, it had better have a happy ending.