Friday, December 23, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees - Susan Meissner

A Sound Among the Trees is a fictional story that spans multiple generations of women who live, or have lived, at Holly Oak House in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The history of the house encompasses the Civil War, the physical battles that raged around it, and the battles, both mental and relational, that waged within it. The current lady of the house, Adelaide, is convinced that the house is trying to absolve itself of the sins of the house by taking out its angst on the women of the family line. People in the town are convinced that Adelaide's great grandmother, Susannah, haunts the house to absolve herself of her crimes. Are either of these true? You'll need to read the book to find out. :)

I am not a fan of ghost stories, and while the book focused on the idea of Susannah as a ghost, I had trouble getting interested in the story. There were two story lines that did pull me in, though: the story of Susannah herself - told through stories to her cousin Eleanor, and the story of Caroline, Adelaide's daughter, who ran away from home and returned only periodically, once bearing an infant daughter whom she left for Adelaide to raise.

Caroline, the prodigal daughter, leaves home to experience the world in every way she can. She doesn't know who her daughter's father is, and she has an eclectic resume of odd jobs from her travels. However, her travels eventually lead her to a convent where, in her words, the nuns teach her that "people who fall against the last door on earth, find out how to crawl through it." She is changed by God, she has found peace, and she returns to Holly Oak to share that peace and to be the daughter and grandmother that she should have been before.

Susannah's letters tell the story of the civil war and her family's involvement in it, living in the South, but having ties to the north. As a reader, I felt Susannah's conflict, her confusion over the war itself and what her role within it should be. She became more than the "ghost of Holly Oak" through her own voice in the letters, and she became part of the reinstatement of peace to the surviving generations of Holly Oak Women.

Overall, I would give this book 2.5 stars. I was solidly in the 2-star category until I got to Susannah's letters and the conclusions. While those finally got me engaged in the story, it wasn't really enough for me to rank the book much higher.

You can read an excerpt from the book HERE.

Please consider ranking my review; you could win a free copy!

I received this e-book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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