A Sparkling Vintage Life

Monthly Archives: July 2014

Sparkling Vintage Fiction: Annie’s Stories by Cindy Thomson

annies stories coverIn 1901, young Irish immigrant Annie Gallagher has a good job as a housekeeper in a New York City boarding house–but her real ambition is to build a library to be used and enjoyed by other hardworking immigrants. Before arriving in the States, Annie had to overcome difficult circumstances back in Ireland, including the deaths of her parents, strife caused by her uncle and cousin, and a horrifying stint in a Magdalen laundry, where unwanted girls were put to work. Now safely ensconced in a better place, she wants to reach out to other immigrants adjusting to new lives and, as a lover of books and stories, feels a library would help to do that.

Like the rest of America, Annie is enthralled with a new book taking the country by storm called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And she treasures the only legacy she received from her late father–pages that contain the imaginative stories he spun for her all throughout her childhood.

Annie’s Stories is peopled with well-drawn characters: spirited Annie; boardinghouse owner Mrs. Hawkins, a stern but motherly figure; a young German immigrant girl who works in a factory; and a handsome postman who seems to have set his cap for Annie, among others. But soon, a series of secrets and misunderstandings threatens to upset the new life Annie has made for herself. Authorities threaten to close down the boardinghouse, and even the pages of her father’s stories might contain a secret that could change her whole life.

I enjoyed the early-twentieth century setting and the details about life in New York at that time, as well as the plucky immigrant women making their own way in a new world. The themes of overcoming obstacles and learning to trust God shine through. If you enjoy the inspirational historical novels of Lynn Austin, as I do, Cindy Thomson is another author you should try.

Annie’s Stories is the second book in Cindy Thomson’s Ellis Island series, and the sequel to Grace’s Pictures. Grace, the heroine of the earlier book, makes a few appearances in Annie’s Stories.However, you don’t need to have read Grace’s Pictures first in order to enjoy Annie’s Stories.

If you enjoy the inspirational historical novels of Lynn Austin, Cindy Thomson is another writer you should try.

Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

In the Morning

I’ve been silent on this blog a little too long as I’ve struggled to revise my latest novel manuscript. It has not been easy going, but I think I can see a glimmer of light at the end of a long, long tunnel.

Thank you for your patience. Meanwhile, here’s a Sunday-morning treat from Eden’s Bridge. I sang it in church a couple of weeks ago and it’s been on my mind every gorgeous summer morning since then. Enjoy!

Sparkling Vintage Fiction: Love Comes Home by Ann H. Gabhart

love comes home coverIf you like sweet romance in set in earlier eras, you’ll get plenty of it in Ann Gabhart’s new novel, Love Comes Home. In it, three sisters are reunited–or not–with their men coming home from World War II. For good or bad, war changes people, and after long years of separation, even the most joyous, longed-for reunion requires some adjustment.

As the story opens in August 1945, all of America is cheering the end of World War II with the announcement of VJ Day. In a small Kentucky town, the four Merritt sisters find themselves navigating rocky emotional waters:

*One is overjoyed at the return of her soldier-husband and eager to start a family. But they were newlyweds when he went off to war–how well do they really know each other?
*Another sister struggles when her husband returns from the war a changed man
*Another must adjust to life as the single mother of a toddler

At age 14, the fourth (adopted) sister doesn’t have a soldier coming home–but must cope nonetheless with roiling emotions concerning the true circumstances of her birth.

Faith and the support of a big, warm, loving family is the overarching theme that weaves all of these separate threads together.

As a history buff, I felt that more details about life during World War II, particularly its effect on a small town in Kentucky, would have added color, interest, and credibility to the story. At times it felt very contemporary, especially when characters said things like “You go hang out with Jay.” “Hang out” doesn’t sound like something that would have been said in the 1940s except in reference to hanging out the wash. But for readers less history-minded and longing for tales of romance and strong family ties, Love Comes Home offers both in spades.

Love Comes Home is the third book in a series, and I read it without reading the others first. I wish I had read the books in order, because I think it would have given me better insight into the sisters and their personalities and motivations, which were mystifying to me at times. But for the most part the story stands on its own, and the author does a good job of filling in bits of story from the earlier books.

In short, Love Comes Home is a clean inspirational read about romance, marriage, family, and faith.

Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Sign up for my Reader Community