Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Sound Among the Trees: A Review by Kathy Porter

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.   

A Sound Among the Trees, a novel by Susan Meissner, is an exemplary tale of love, forgiveness, relationships, and the grace of God. Painted against a beautiful Southern canvas in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and creatively intertwined with historical events, Meissner quickly grasps the attention of her audience in this psychological piece of fiction.
It is rare in literature that themes of Christianity collide with that of the paranormal world. Yet, Meissner succeeds in weaving the two together to illustrate the point that “ghosts” are merely “startling shimmers of the past” that are still visible from time to time. What happens, though, when those ghosts begin to control one’s life and curse all who enter?
While A Sound Among the Trees provides the perfect mixture of laughter (especially through the quirky Southern women portrayed) sentimentality, betrayal, and sadness, perhaps the beauty of the story truly does lie in the fact that the story told of one family’s relationships throughout generations is told through the eyes of a physical structure: Their house.
Houses are an emblem for refuge, not lies and broken promises, yet Holly Oak has become a tomb for buried truth due to the ugliness of the past. Through God’s love, however, one family is given the opportunity, the strength, and the bravery to conquer the demons of the past and learn to love life, and Holly Oak, in the process.
A Sound Among the Trees is bound to become a classic in contemporary fiction, leaving all readers with a hauntingly passionate outlook towards life, the secrets we keep, and the false perceptions our human minds sometimes create. Although the pace is somewhat slow, as the characters are revealed in depth, and the conflict of the story is laid out in great detail, the themes, struggles, heartbreaks, and joys are all very realistic. Meissner has created a great relate-ability factor.
From the opening of the book, and the turning of the first page, readers will be left wanting more—more from Meissner, more from the characters that reside at Holly Oak, and more from the familial relationships we all share. Your heart may even break a time or two, but you will be left smiling at the graciousness of a loving God, who loves and blesses His children, despite the past and gives the gift of moving forward.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.*

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