Friday, December 9, 2011

A Sound Among The Trees by Susan Meissner

Readers will find the plot of A Sound Among the Trees intriguing. Newly transported from New Mexico, Marielle has trouble dealing with her new role as wife, stepmother, and inhabitant of the historic home, Holly Oak.

Holly Oak belonged to Carson's ex-wife's family. In fact, the oldest living Holly Oak woman, Adelaide, still lives in the house. The historic house was built before the civil war and was the setting of much sorrow. Several Fredericksburg women has stepped forward to warn Marielle that the house is haunted by a ghost.

Adelaide, the matriarch of the family, believes the house is "stuck" the same way that a needle can get stuck in a record. The house barely survived the civil war and still has a cannon ball in its walls. More recently, Sarah, Adelaide's only grandchild died from complications of child birth. All of the Holly Oak women, she believes, are all doomed to unhappy lives.

The story becomes even more interesting once Marielle finds a stash of letters belonging to Susannah Towsley, the woman who supposedly haunts Holly Oak's parlor and cellar.

Susanna helps her beloved Union soldier, Will, escape from Libby prison. The escape is orchestrated by her ingenuous Aunt, Eliza, but it is Susanna's courage that ultimately makes the breakout from Libby prison possible.

Resolution is only possible after Adelaide's estranged daugther, Caroline, returns to Holly Oak. Caroline provides the clues for understanding the elderly Susana's final words and digs up the hidden stash of letters. She presses the family into finding solutions to problems that have previously eluded them.

While I wouldn't call this page-turner, some of the characters are admirably drawn; most notably Susannah and Eliza. Pearl is delightful for comic effect and Adelaide is charming though I think she accepts and forgives Caroline too easily.

A Sound Among the Trees made me want to read more about the civil war period, especially civil war Fredericksburg.

As a member of the Waterbrook/Multnomah's "blogging-for-books" team, I received this book at no charge. I was not required to write a positive review.