Wednesday, April 21, 2021

ORCHARD HOUSE by Heidi Chiavaroli, Reviewed by Rebecca and Paula

"I am talking about a bigger place to belong - in the arms of One who not only tells me not to fear; but who, in the midst of my failures, has loved me and given me a worth beyond measure. In this, I find both liberty and home - two things I once thought opposites but I now see are not so very different."

Belonging. A difficult topic for two young women to comprehend; separated by generations and yet inexplicably bound together by commonality of heart and mind. One had been adopted as a young teen, only to suffer betrayal by those who had spoken of love. The other sought security beside one who routinely broke his promises, ushering in years of heartache and misunderstanding.

But running away? Had that been the right response to Taylor Bennett's dilemma? What about staying? Did Johanna Suhre Bancroft make the right decision when she remained? Miraculously, a hidden book of poems, found tucked away in the historic home of Louisa May Alcott, peels back the pages of time enough to give both women closure, within and without the walls of The Orchard House.

"The Author of Life. He was still writing the words, spinning our story. And this time I was certain that good would come from it."

What a lovely and thought-provoking book! 
* 4.5 stars. I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Ms. Chiavaroli is a masterful storyteller as she weaves past and present into a story that is beautiful but complicated with a subtle underpinning of faith.

From the first page, I cared about Taylor and not just her story. Taylor is on a journey to meet her past head-on and find what is truly meaningful in life. “Maybe I could find myself. If not myself or peace, then maybe I could brave the waters of optimism and at least search out that dangerous, elusive thing I’d feared too long...hope.”

The setting was magical because of its historical significance and the peek into the life of Louisa Alcott. It is written with an appreciation for all things Louisa and Concord, Massachusetts and at the same time it tells the struggles of an adopted child to fit in and belong.

I like that the subjects of PTSD and domestic abuse were dealt with but the ending was not tied up in a nice bow. Yet there is hope presented throughout the characters journeys, past and present.

An excellent book from an accomplished author.
*I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own.*I give this five stars and a subtle faith thread. 

See Nicole's Review

Back Cover Blurb:
Award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli transports readers across time and place in this time-slip novel that will appeal to fans of Little Women.

Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong. 

Tyndale House Publishing
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

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