Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review of Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

When Marielle marries Carson Bishop and moves into the family home of his first wife, Sara, she is immersed into a house that is shrouded in grief and secrets. Holly Oak, the house, is a pre-Civil War antebellum home that survived the devastation of Fredericksburg, Virginia during the war. Marielle first hears of the alleged ghost, Susannah Page, haunting the house from Susannah's great-granddaughter, Adelaide, shortly after her arrival. Each of the women who have lived in the house have suffered deep sorrows. But is it the house seeking atonement or is it Susannah's ghost causing the women to suffer? Marielle must discover the truth for herself by reading Susannah's story and make up her own mind whether or not Susannah's ghost haunts the house. Was Susannah wrongly accused of being a Northern spy and sympathizer despite being married to a Confederate officer or was there something else behind the mystery that is Susannah is the question Marielle hopes to find an answer to so that she, her husband, and her stepchildren can put the past behind them and live as a new family.

Contemporary meets the Civil War. The setting was truly right up my alley as I'm long time fan of the Civil War period. The way that the mystery surrounding Susannah and her story in the contemporary portion of the book gripped me. I couldn't wait to uncover the truth along with Marielle. When I got to the portion of the book that told Susannah's story through letters to her cousin, I was even more fascinated. I finally understood the sacrifices that Susannah made to save the ones she loved.

I'd never read any of Susan Meissner's books before, and I have to wonder why. I'm not sure why I never gave her a chance, but I will definitely keep my eyes open for additional ones by her to read. I really enjoyed this book. Usually I'm reading 3 or 4 books at one time, and yes that was true in this case. But this was one I started on Sunday night and finished on Friday because I couldn't put it down. I found the book to be intriguing and different than most of the books I read as there were really two stories in the book - Susannah's and Marielle's.

I'd have to say that there were a total of four major characters in the book - Adelaide, Susannah, Marielle, and the house itself. I'd never really thought about a house as a character but because the house was so pivotal in each of the lives of the women, it was a character of its own. The understanding of love and sacrifice and survival is a strong theme in the book. Each human character must come to her own understanding of Susannah's past and the house in order to move on with her life. This appears to be easier for some than for others. I found myself thinking too about Susannah's story. And if I'd been in her shoes. Would I have had the strength and the courage to do what she did to save the ones she loved? Or would I have taken an easy way out? I don't know.

Overall, I'd rate this book four out five stars. I received this advance readers copy for free from Waterbrook/Multnomah for review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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