How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: Grandmother's Letters

Grandmother's Letters

“Louise’s friend is dragging her along on a dubious treasure hunt. She, however, would rather be reading the recently discovered letters written by her great-great-grandmother, Georgiana Donahue.

Meanwhile, Xavier, a young law student, is facing struggles of his own. He can’t find a job, his uncle is constantly belittling his late father, and he can hardly stand his seemingly perfect cousin.

In the next town, an old man’s reclusive ways are disturbed when he agrees to let Malcolm Moore do his yard work. Although he desires to return to his seclusion, he is perplexed by the Moores’ willingness to welcome him into their lives.

Almost 100 years in the past, Georgiana Donahue’s life was turned upside down in the course of one eventful year, and she was inclined to blame God for all of her troubles. Little did she realize that the searching letters she wrote to her brother and his wife would end up touching so many lives, so long after they were written…” [The synopsis.]

This book was a joy to read. Miss Jones draws readers in through many different ways: a mystery about a lost treasure, questions about the old trunk, a fun and interesting cast of characters, heartfelt spiritual lessons, and a cozy story-telling style.

The mystery kept me guessing until its conclusion – a satisfying “who-would-have-thought!” solution. Louise’s rich and overly-bold friend Priscilla, who was wrapped up in solving this mystery, was hilarious.

The old trunk full of family heirlooms represented where the past and present intersected. I loved how history touched and changed modern-day lives through Louise’s great-great-grandmother’s letters.

You’ll need a web to connect all the characters – watching their stories gradually weave together was a delight! Miss Jones portrayed their deep struggles clearly but with an economy of words, and their resolutions were perfectly paced. Almost every person’s story was moving – Mr. Centenarian’s story was probably my favorite, but I liked Louise’s and Xavier’s as well. As an author myself, I was also intrigued by Xavier’s “perfect” cousin Adrian Terrence, who was an author.

Everything fit together like the lovely book cover with its assortment of objects. I would have perhaps liked more character depth, but not every book has to have that, and this one came off well without it because of its large cast of unique and equally-important characters. There were funny moments and touching moments and one that even made me tear up. I see it as a book that explores community – how people from the past can directly and deeply affect those in the present, and how people nowadays can help and care for each other.

There were a few flaws and an inconsistency here and there that another round of editing could have caught. Several of the younger characters calling their parents “Mother and Father” felt unrealistic to me. But basically those are my only criticisms.

Since most or all of the younger characters were homeschooled, Grandmother’s Letters probably holds special interest for homeschooled students, but it is by no means limited in its audience!

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