Friday, October 28, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Book Description:
A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there. With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

Marielle Bishop met Carson online and married him, moving across the country and into Holly Oak, the historic home he and his children shared with her grandmother Adelaide. Adelaide thinks the house is stuck, her friends insist the house is haunted- the bottom line is this house has a history that dates back to the Civil War and the battles fought in Fredricksburg, VA. The book tells the tale of Marielle's efforts to cope with the house, her new family, and the shadow of the past.

This book was very hard to get into, and never really captured my interest. The narrative improved dramatically halfway through the books when Susannah's Civil War correspondence came to light, allowing her story to be told. I certainly felt more emotional connection to Susannah than to any of the modern-day characters. Marielle was too undeveloped, Adelaide too cryptic, Pearl too annoying, Carson too absent- the most interesting modern character was Caroline and she didn't enter until halfway through the novel. Susannah and her war-time experiences would have made an excellent stand-alone story freed from the unsatisfying frame of Marielle's story. The historical part was 4 stars but the contemporary portion barely hit 2 stars so 3 overall for this promising but frustrating novel.

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