on March 19, 2000
While each of Ms Thane's books can be read and enjoyed individually, I think they are best appreciated if one reads them in order: "Dawn's Early Light," "Yankee Stranger," "Ever After," "The Light Heart," "Kissing Kin," "This was Tomorrow," and "Homing." This takes the Day-Sprague clan from the Revolutionary War well into the WWII era.
on June 10, 2001
When Phoebe Sprague discovers that love may not mean the bland affection evoked by dependable, familiar, unexciting Miles Day, but rather the effervescent, shameless, delirious passion inspired by the revelation that is Oliver Campion, life enters a maze she never imagined. Endlessly, hopelessly separated by previous entanglements, Phoebe and Oliver weave in and out of each other's lives through peace and into war, touching but never holding in an agony of love denied. Meanwhile Rosalind Norton-Leigh, beautiful, light-hearted and naive, learns what it means to commit her life without love to a man who is a stranger in perspective, in background, and in temperament. These two main stories hang upon the framework provided by the years between the death of Victoria and the start of the First World War. But be forewarned: glorious and enthralling as the stories are, in this as in the final books of this series Ms. Thane's dislike for and contempt of what she perceives to be the "German Character" glare like a discord in a lovely symphony. One must remember that Thane spent all her summers in England between the World Wars, and that these novels were written just before and during the Second, so that her blatant anti-German prejudice becomes at least understandable -- but her verbal decimation of Germans as a nationality and as a culture can be as difficult to take as the casual racism of her earlier novels. Read this book for its virtues -- her description of the sinking of the Lusitania, London during the zeppelin raids, life in a German Schloss before the war, England in Thane's favorite elite trappings. Read it, if for no other reason, than for the embraceable, eye-popping and purely-a-joy character that is long lost cousin Sally Sprague. And read it most of all for the glorious human romances that adorn this scaffolding. If nothing else, this book will make you fall in love all over again with the wild, pulse-pounding idea of being once more (but maybe for the only time) truly in love.
on June 8, 2000
I read this book over 25 years ago and loved it. The enduring love story of shy, young Phoebe and strong, handsome soldier Oliver (set in the War years of the early 1900s) has remained strong in my memory all these years.
on February 15, 1998
Phoebe and Oliver are two of the most memorable characters I have ever met. Their story of enduring love has enchanted me for years--right up there with Scarlett and Rhett. The added interest of WWI history pulls this book together in an unforgettable way. An all-time favorite of mine!
on September 30, 2015
This book was not up to Ms. Thane's usual excellence: the characters were unrealistic and the action was boring. While still a good read, it was easy to put this book down for days because there was no feeling or emotions with which I could identify. Certainly not what I expected from the author of Dawn's Early Light and Ever After.
on June 26, 1999
This book is probably my favorite in the series, since Phoebe is the strongest woman character of the family. I also love the World War I era. But they are all wonderful. Elswyth Thane had a remarkable gift for historical fiction, placing romances that we actually care about amid the well-researched past.
The most terrible story the world had ever seen was being enacted in France and England, and Phoebe Sprague was three thousand miles away."
This is the fourth book in an ongoing series about the Day/Sprague families of Williamsburg Virginia. This volume opens in 1902 and finishes off towards the end of WWI, and even puts one character right on the Lusitania. I've left too much time lapse between finishing and trying to write a review, and I don't think I can recap it properly, but there are two couples who were meant to be together, but events intervene and the wrong marriages are made, and it's a long road to see if they get a HEA or not.
I really liked the relationship between Phoebe and Oliver (sigh), and Thane really kept me on pins and needles until the very last page. Well worth a read, but be advised this should be read in series order, and I would not recommend as a standalone. Even with the family tree at the front, the Sprague/Day families and all those cousins marrying do make it difficult to keep track of it all.
on September 14, 2009
I read "The Williamsburg Novels" for the first time as a teenager in 1968. I have read them 3 times since, have encouraged my children, and now my "in-law" children to read them. The Light Heart is a favorite. Yes, Elswyth Thane wrote with prejudice, a sign of the times, about Blacks and Germans. That is what life was from 1902 through 1917. The story gives great insight into the way of life in privilaged England. What a love story, but not just a love story. This is a character story, a lifestyle story, a World War I lifestyle story. I could go on and on. I highly recommend.
on December 16, 2007
I adored this love story with an Edwardian setting when I was much younger, and it's still great romance, but on a recent rereading I had to overlook class snobbery, racism, and anti-German paranoia. All of these are due to the period in which it was written, and probably reflect the attitudes the characters would have had, but still, it's a bit hard to take sometimes.
on October 16, 2010
The Light Heart, the fourth installment in Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg series, covers the years 1902 to 1917. Like the previous book Ever After, the book begins in Williamsburg, Virginia but quickly moves away; except for brief returns to Williamsburg the book takes place elsewhere, primarily in England, Germany, and to a lesser degree New York and Belgium.
The Light Heart continues the saga of the Day/Sprague/Murray families (and now also the Campion family who were added in Ever After). The book is firmly centered on Phoebe Sprague, although there are other plotlines involving secondary characters. As in the three previous books, in this one Thane continues her theme of weaving in a character who is a war correspondent. In this case it is Phoebe herself who, after the heartbreak of an unrealized love-at-first-sight romance, comes back to America and drowns her sorrows by launching her long-dreamed-of writing career. She becomes instantly and fabulously successful, writing bestseller after bestseller. But when war breaks out in Europe she decides (for various reasons I won't go into as that would be a spoiler) to leave her posh New York life and head to Europe to become a war correspondent of sorts (although she isn't employed by a newspaper, her Uncle Bracken has challenged her to keep notes and turn them into yet another bestseller for which he will pay her handsomely).
In The Light Heart Thane introduces an entirely new character, Rosalind Norton-Leigh, whose story line I found particularly engaging.
The Light Heart is distinctly different from the three previous book in that the main character is a female; therefore, there are no battlefield scenes and no military details. Once WWI begins, we see it from the point of view of hospitals (makeshift and otherwise), and the home front. The WWI backdrop was an interesting one and, with the exception of a couple of elements, I found Phoebe's story an interesting and well-crafted one. Although the book is not quite up to the par of Dawn's Early Light and Yankee Stranger (for one thing it lacks the climactic scene near the end), it was better than Ever After (more focused, and the romances were much better done).