Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review of "A Noble Groom" by Jody Hedlund

Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Review: Fairy tales have been the theme of several books that I have read recently.  Jody Hedlund's newest novel, "A Noble Groom," is built around the dream of a fairy-tale style love, but delves much deeper. Like in her other novels, Hedlund immerses readers in a historical setting.  The blend of fact and fiction lends a realism and poignancy that make Hedlund's books memorable.  "A Noble Groom" offers readers a glimpse into the immigrant community in Michigan during the 1880s.  The plot touches on social, economic, and environmental issues, to create a realistic picture of life during that time period.  At the center is a touching romance that ties in themes of love, truth, strength, and forgiveness.

Annalisa's plight as a woman and single mother in her small German community is both insightful and inspiring.  The oppression of women in Annalisa's culture is heartbreaking and painful, but makes her fight to create a better life for her daughters more heroic.  Annalisa is a sweet, yet strong heroine, deserving of a completely noble groom to fulfill her dreams.  Enter Carl Richards, a noble man in disguise, seeking refuge in America.  From the beginning, it is evident that Carl's presence will eventually bring heartache if his true identity is revealed.  His haughty views of  "peasants" when he arrives in Annalisa's community is frustrating  and annoying.  Hedlund develops and softens his character throughout the novel, and he becomes the definition of "noble."  The love between Annalisa and Carl is sweet and well-developed and is the impetus for personal growth in both characters.  An unhurried, meaningful love story is always more satisfying from beginning to end than one that is rushed.

An element of danger and an unsolved murder adds another dimension to the story.  They come together in the end to create tense closing scenes, but also uncover truth and forgiveness.  One of the major historical events at the end is one that I have read about in another book, but Hedlund's portrayal offers a unique perspective that ties in seamlessly with the overall plot. I have a few lingering questions about what happened to some of the background characters after this pivotal event, but there are no doubts about the outcomes for the main characters.

"A Noble Groom" is another finely crafted historical novel by Jody Hedlund.  Each of her novels is distinct and well-developed, which is exactly why I always look forward to her next release. "A Noble Groom" offers history, romance, faith, charming main characters, hardships, and triumphs...all the qualities that make a book a worthwhile read.

I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel from Netgalley, courtesy of Bethany House.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Summary from Bethany House: Michigan, 1880 - Annalisa Werner's hope for a fairy tale love is over. Her husband failed her in every way and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm. She needs a plentiful harvest. That, and a husband to help bring it in. Someone strong, dependable. That’ll be enough. A marriage for love...that's something she's given up on. So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
Then a man appears: Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany and a former schoolteacher--or so he says. He's looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.
With time running out, she accepts his help, but there's more to this man than he's admitting. He's also gentle, kind, charming--unlike any man she's ever known. But even as Carl is shining light into the darkness of her heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day.

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