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Hope Between the Pages (Doors to the Past) Paperback – April 1, 2021
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–J’nell Ciesielski, author of The Socialite and Beauty Among Ruins
“A hauntingly beautiful dual-time story laced with the elegance of the Vanderbilts and the lure of a cozy bookstore. Pepper Basham entrances readers with a love story that will linger long after they tuck the book gently back onto their shelf. This is a story of love, of challenge, and most of all, legacy.”
–Jaime Jo Wright, author of Christy Award-Winning The House on Foster Hill, and Christy Award-Nominated Echoes Among the Stones
“An amiable escape into the beloved world of books. Splitting time between the present and the past, Basham creates vivid historical landscapes to transport the reader to the age of the Great War and to the lavish world of the famed Vanderbilts’ mansion. Paired with modern-day jaunts from a storied bookshop to the famed Asheville estate and the charm of the English countryside, vintage-loving heroine Clara’s uncovering of her own hidden past will leave readers wishing they’ve walked in the characters’ footsteps themselves. Hope Between the Pages is a love letter to libraries and literature. . .to books and their quaint little shops. . .and to the timeless stories they tell—a fairy tale of a journey that will invite readers to fall in love with their favorite stories all over again!”
–Kristy Cambron, Christy Award–winning author of The Paris Dressmaker and The Butterfly and the Violin
- Publisher : Barbour Fiction (April 1, 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1643528262
- ISBN-13 : 978-1643528267
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #65,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Usually with split time stories like this, I get invested in one story over the other. Here, that didn't happen. Sadie and Clara both captured my interest and my heart, keeping pages turning until once, I got so tired I almost dropped my Kindle. These women are my soul sisters. They adore books, and they want nothing more than to bring the joy of story to other people. Yet, their story is not an "identical" one, as in, they're both only bookworms. I loved the touches that set them apart, such as the "modern Cinderella" feel of Sadie's story, and Clara's suspenseful journey to find the deed to Blackwell's.
The settings in Hope Between the Pages swept me away, too. Biltmore was excellent and felt a bit like home. Of course, that might be because I live within driving distance and have been there several times (my school system took the eighth graders of every graduating class, and my high school choir sang there every Christmas). But seeing familiar places like the Winter Garden through characters' eyes enchanted me all over again. I still had the reaction I have when I see the Biltmore library in person--"I want to live here!" I so envied Sadie for getting to work there!
As for Blackwell's, it felt like home, too, more so than Biltmore because I've spent countless hours in brick and mortar stores since I was a little kid. Every time a store closes, a part of my heart breaks. And so I rooted for Clara and her family to save Blackwell's all the way through. I also loved the specific parts of Blackwell's that set it apart, like the fairy tale section (it belongs upstairs)!
The romances, too, were the definition of swoon-worthy, especially Sadie and Oliver's. The library fairy and the book goblin...I should be so blessed to find a guy who loves books as much as I do. Plus, the split time nature of the book meant the end of Sadie and Oliver's romance all the more heart-rending, but touching. As for Clara and Max, I admit, I wasn't entirely on board with them at first. I'm not a believer in love at first sight or whirlwind romances. But they won me over, probably because they were kind of adversaries at first, and got to know each other at their best and worst. That's what it takes to truly know someone, and quick though their relationship was, I ended up wishing Clara and Max many happy years together.
The spiritual threads here are understated, but perfectly placed. They're what happens when the Christian element in "Christian fiction" is allowed to be an organic underpinning. Again, Sadie's drew me a little more, but I appreciated Clara's journey to learn what God might want for her outside of Blackwell's, caring for her parents, and what other people wanted. I loved how both women learned, they were doing good things, perhaps what God wanted them to do, for a season. But seasons end, and if you listen closely, you'll find God has new adventures, tests, and blessings for you.
The suspenseful element, too, had an understatement I like. I appreciated that this time, "suspense" didn't necessarily mean murder, missing persons, or a web of lies. But it did involve the rescuing and saving of people, hearts, and souls. It did involve some surprises, like Clara's English family and the true motives of the villainous Camden matriarch (ooh, she still makes me mad)! I think my favorite surprise though, was the wall behind the bookshelves, the names that made up Sadie and Lark's legacy, and of course, the fairy tale book.
As always, it's the little scenes that make a book like this so wonderful. Look for:
-Clara and Max's scenes in the castle-like gatehouse
-Sadie and Oliver getting to know each other in the Biltmore library
-Any scene with Victoria Camden (she's both a spitfire and a darling)
-Again, the wall behind the Blackwell's bookshelves
And many more...
I do have a few critiques. For one, Pepper needs to find a dependable, excellent editor. I noticed several odd sentence fragments, some words blended into one that shouldn't have been (e.g., overtop), and the misuse of words (e.g., resort for revert). Pepper also uses "pearl" as a verb a few times, which I didn't understand. As noted, even though I eventually came on board, I also felt Clara and Max's romance was a little rushed. I wasn't entirely on board with Clara seeing Max outside of his scars--I wanted it to be clearer that she saw him as a whole person and appreciated the scars. And as always with a book like this, I found it too short. I wanted more since there was so much going on outside the main plots--Lark's abusive husband, Clara's mom's health, etc.
That said, this is the first time I believe a book with what could be significant issues, nevertheless deserves all five stars. What can I say, I loved it, and love covers a multitude of errors. :) But seriously, if you haven't read this yet, I enthusiastically recommend you do. I would love if Pepper wrote a sequel or two, but even if she doesn't, I'll be revisiting Biltmore and Blackwell's in the future.
Rarely do I use quotes from a book but I want to share a few here that shook me. As the characters remember those they love, the author consoles a young girl who wants to see her dear brother again with “he’s only a page away.” He’s there in his story and in one’s heart. “God allows us the gift of memories to tide us over to eternity.” Lovely!
The pages of this book hold out the branches of love, hope, and bravery. Latch on for an inspirational journey.
I received a copy for my honest review.
There are so many things done well that all combine for a throughly enjoyable story that was hard to put down, and hard to forget about when not reading it!
Dual Timelines - This author made the interchanges between the past and present feel seamless. There was never a point of confusion for me like I have experienced in a few other books. Very well done.
The characters from both eras were so well written that they come alive. I loved them all!
I felt so many emotions! (Have a few tissues ready - for tears of joy and sorrow...)
There was also humor and deep feelings of contentment.
This author has a wonderful talent for describing things - without overdoing it ~ the character's features, the locations like the Biltmore Estate, the English countryside, and of course the wonderful Bookshop! Through the author's words you can easily imagine being any of those places!
There is Mystery ~ Suspense ~ and a few villains of course.
I absolutely loved the focus on books and the connections they can create in relationships!
And then there's the Romance - sweet, clean, achingly real on many levels. Beautiful and swoony kissing.
I loved how the mystery is unraveled bit by bit instead of all at once. I loved the surprises!
The lean toward belief in God was done very well too - not preachy. Very comforting and ~ Hopefull.
One of my favorite lines in this book was ~ "I held to God's assurance. Whatever the future held, He was already there." ...love that...
I recommend this book very much! I will definitely be reading it again!