Surrender at Orchard Rest (Orchard Rest Historical Southern Fiction Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-4 of 223 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The novel’s setting is Orchard Rest Plantation, home to a dysfunctional Alabama family, which after three years of a somewhat successful struggle with the aftermath of the War Between the States and the exigencies of Reconstruction, has begun to implode.
Well-to-do and, by inference, congenial before the War, losses in property, dignity, and blood are unraveling the threads of the family unit, exposing (and exacerbating) a familial divide created by two women, mother and daughter, long before the War began. From all appearances, the relationships between Blanch Marshall Forrest and her mother and their respective first-born sons (both deceased when the story opens) appear inadvertent, but two generations of favoritism, enhanced by death to the point of obsession, is now telling on the surviving children.
The story centers on Somerset Forrest, second-born daughter of Blanch Forrest, and the oldest daughter still residing on the farm. A strong and well-developed character, Somerset, three years after war’s end and six years after he went missing on the Chickamauga, believes she has come to grips with the loss of her true love, Eric Rutherford, and is determined to find happiness with Eric’s cousin, Sawyer Russell. But Eric’s metaphorical ghost haunts their relationship, more the reader realizes as the story progresses, for Sawyer than for the resolute Somerset. Eric died under mysterious circumstances while in a combat situation with Somerset’s two older brothers and Sawyer. Eric’s body was never recovered—a simple fact that has kept Somerset hopeful for six long years he will come limping home.
Key to the mystery of Eric Rutherford’s loss is Blanch and Thomas Forrest’s second son, the handsome and troubled Joseph who is determined to move Orchard Rest forward through hard work and self-denial. Another excellently drawn character (and my personal favorite), Joseph in tandem with his sister Somerset prove the backbone of the Forrest family. Each burdened by wakeful hauntings of lost hopes, their individual weaknesses are countered by complementary strengths that when combined hold the family together.
But the exorcism required to put all their ghosts to rest lies with the disappearance of Eric Rutherford on the Chickamauga in 1863. I would be remiss not to mention that this mystery woven through the story is compelling.
Some historical anachronisms were noted in this story but nothing jarring to the uninitiated eye or detrimental to the quality of the work vis-à-vis the genre. If you like Southern Gothic or a good read in general, you will thoroughly enjoy Surrender at Orchard Rest, and I for one look forward to its sequel.
Denney uses Somerset’s voice to full advantage, providing through her eyes a clear view of the struggles many families went through during the painful era of Reconstruction, as well as the sobering plight faced by women at that time. The dramatic juxtaposition of a young woman hauling up seven layers of skirts to muck a stable or feed the chickens is a powerful one.
Denney’s writing is crisp, and layered with nuance. The scenes are set with great attention to detail. I even learned a new word for a horrifying—and, thank the Lord, bygone—piece of women’s underclothing: a basque. (Although I’m sure that one could still order one from the far corners of the internet.)
Romance novels can all too often be beset with a duality of evils: dull characters, whose motivations only go so far as their next tryst, and a dull-as-a-butter-knife plot, which serves merely as a loose framework to allow for the aforementioned trysts. Happily, Surrender at Orchard Rest is not plagued by either. The Southern belles depicted here are peppery and full of life, intelligent and determined enough to know which societal rules to bend—and which ones to break completely—in the pursuit of true love.