Thursday, September 28, 2017

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe (Historical Proper Romance) by Josi S. Kilpack

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet's sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed-being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman's life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband's heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after "I do"? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?

It's sometimes hard to imagine how life would have been if I had lived in the early 1800's when the country was changing so quickly and women were so repressed.  But then Josi Kilpack comes along and makes me feel like Harriet's life could have been my life or the life of any of us because of the common desires, thoughts and feelings that inherently makes us women.  

I did not know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe before reading this book other than her famous writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  I love how personable Harriet and Calvin became to me and how much of myself I could see in them.  Kilpack does an excellent job of bringing this bit of history to life and I loved her notes in the back for each chapter.  It points to research well done which can be felt in each page of this book.

There is nothing heart pounding or edge of your seat in this book.  It's simply a story about two people trying to work through the messy bits of life and relationships to find happiness and peace.  I felt the connection to the characters and the story.  I feel like I now have a better understanding of Harriet Beecher Stowe and I'm the better for it.

Content:  Some references to intimate relations between a husband and wife with no details.

- I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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