Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Civil War Brides

The Quilted Heart

Dandelions on the Wind * Bending Toward the Sun * Ripples Along the Shore

     Mona Hodgson

Once a week, Elsa Brantenberg hosts the Saint Charles Quilting Circle at her farmhouse on the outskirts
of the riverside town of St. Charles, Missouri. The ladies who gather there have all experienced heartache related to the intense hardships of the Civil War, and together, they are facing their painful circumstances with friendship and prayer. Can the tattered pieces of their hearts be stitched together by God’s grace? 

Dandelions on the Wind
When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren, and she feels compelled to find another job. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan? 

Bending Toward the Sun
Dedicated to her education and to helping her father in his general store, Emilie Heinrich is convinced she doesn't have time for love. But when a childhood friend returns to St. Charles, Missouri, after serving in the Civil War, his smile and charm captures Emilie’s eye and her heart. Will she be forced to choose between honoring her father and a future with a husband and family of her own? 

Ripples Along the Shore
Change is brewing in St. Charles. A group of brave souls are preparing to head west on the Boone's Lick Wagon Train, led by the mysterious and handsome Garrett Cowlishaw, who served as a Confederate soldier in the war that killed Caroline’s husband. Despite her dislike for him, Caroline is tempted to join the wagon train and start fresh somewhere new, but when Mr. Cowlishaw forbids her—a single woman—to travel with them, will one man’s prejudice destroy Caroline’s hope for a new future? Or will the ripples of God’s love bring the answer she needs?


      When I read these novellas, I have to admit I was really sad that they were so short. I really wanted more to happen. Each novella is a continuation of the one before it with a shift in the main female character. Sometimes it felt like so many characters were being developed during the novellas when I wasn't looking. I was so disappointed. Although, I hear that the novellas are the prequel for a book called Prairie Song. Prairie Song is about one of those female characters I wish I could have watched her throughout the novellas. Anna made a big decision, and I had to hear about it second hand! How amazingly rude!

     I did enjoy the novellas, and the idea that the characters all knew each other and interacted in this Quilting Circle. It was refreshing to find that not every novella was centered around romance, some were just focused on the advancing of the character of well the character. Haha! The characters were very realistic and the number of maladies that they had to face, like facing blindness and the implications that accompany that in the nineteenth century. These novellas are set right after the Civil War ended, and so there are war widows, looks at PTSD and other problems that returning soldiers had to face before these things were diagnosed,  and prejudice because of the whole north versus south thing. Amazingly  I cannot wait to read Prairie Song

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my review. 
The Summary for Prairie Song: 

Though it means saying goodbye to the beloved friends and spiritual mentors of her St. Charles, Missouri quilting circle, Anna Goben is certain that she needs to enlist her family in the Boones Lick Company wagon train. The loss of her beloved brother in the Civil War has paralyzed her mother and grandfather in a malaise of grief and depression and Anna is convinced that only a fresh start in the Promised Land of California can bring her family back to her. Although the unknown perils of the trail west loom, Anna’s commitment to caring for her loved ones leaves no room for fear—or even loving someone new.
During the five-month journey, trail hand Caleb Reger plans to keep a low profile as he watches over the band of travelers. Guarding secrets about his past and avoiding God’s calling on his life, Caleb wants to steer as far from Anna as she does him, but she proves to be just as he assessed her from the beginning— independent, beautiful trouble.
Led by a pillar of hope, the group faces rough terrain that begins to take a toll on their spirits. Will the wilderness of suffering lead them astray, or will the gentle song of love that echoes across the prairie turn their hearts toward God’s grace and the promise of a new home?

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