From the months leading up to the Civil War to the years rebuilding afterward, Among the Fair Magnolias depicts the South--both its beauty and ugliness--in this collection of four love stories. I couldn't resist picking up this collection for the sake of Tamera Alexander's novella, and in turn it introduced me to three other writers of historical fiction.
"A Heart So True" by Dorothy Love: I always enjoy a fresh setting, and a marshy island off South Carolina, with a focus on rice plantations instead of the characteristic cotton and tobacco of the South, was a pleasant surprise. While I am generally not into politics, the discussions and worries over secession was new perspective for me, and I liked that that oft-neglected aspect of the antebellum South formed the backdrop of the story. After reading this story, I am definitely interested in reading more of the author's works.
"To Mend a Dream" by Tamera Alexander: In the author's novel To Win Her Favor, she introduced Savannah, a friend of the heroine in severely reduced circumstances, and it was a pleasure to discover that that same woman is the heroine of this story. Even though it is significantly shorter than the author's novels, it it still holds true to her characteristic richness and developed characters. It's not often that a novel, let alone a novella, brings tears to my eyes, but this one did. It speaks such a promise of hope and restoration.
"Love Beyond Limits" by Elizabeth Musser: This story surprised me. At the beginning I thought I knew exactly where it was going, and I was hesitant to believe such a short page limit could do the story justice. But then somewhere past the middle I had a sudden suspicion that I had pegged this story all wrong . . .
"An Outlaw's Heart" by Shelley Gray: Not only is it the story with the most humor, it also has the strongest masculine presence of the collection. Taking place near San Antonio, it isn't what I generally consider the South--not in the same way as South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia--but it was a sweet tale of restoration.
Though the stories in this collection cover nearly a twenty-year time frame, it is clear that from before Lincoln was elected to even a dozen years after the Civil War, the war was affecting people's lives. Bound together by Southern heritage and an underlying thread of faith, these four stories make a lovely collection of historical fiction.
Thank you Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing an e-book for review; I was not
required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.
Belle Meade Plantation novels by Tamera Alexander
1. To Whisper Her Name
2. To Win Her Favor
2.5 "To Mend a Dream"
3. To Wager Her Heart
Belmont Mansion novels by Tamera Alexander (related to the Belle Meade novels)
1. A Lasting Impression
2. A Beauty So Rare
3. A Note Yet Unsung
0.5: "Christmas at Carnton" (novella)