Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Beyond All Measure" Review

“Beyond All Measure” by Dorothy Love was sent to me as a review copy by Thomas Nelson Publishers. It tells the story of Ada Wentworth, a Yankee from Boston who, in 1871, finds herself displaced to the hills of Tennessee. Ada arrives in Hickory Ridge to be a lady’s companion to Mrs. Lillian Caldwell Willis and plans to stay only long enough to make the money required to start her life over on her own. Ada has been let down by nearly everyone in her life, and she doesn’t plan to rely on anyone else but herself in the future…not even Lillian’s nephew, Wyatt Caldwell.
Wyatt is the local lumber mill owner in Hickory Ridge who has been living in Tennessee to take care of his Aunt Lillian, who was like a mother to him as a youth. But his dream is to return to Texas and start a ranch of his own. Until now, this dream was only his, but since the arrival of Miss Ada Wentworth, he wonders if this dream could possibly be shared.
Both Wyatt and Ada are dealing with their pasts:  Wyatt the aftermath of the Civil War and Ada the overturned life she left back in Boston. Will their lives and hearts ever be able to trust each other or God again? And will the hurts of a town torn apart by the recent Civil War ever be truly healed?
To begin, I thought this book was a nice read. Although it was not one that I would stay up until 2am to finish, I completed the novel easily in several days, and I was interested in what would happen to the characters in the end. I thought the relationship between Wyatt and Ada progressed neither too slowly nor too quickly. There was also more to this book than just a romance. The town was torn apart by the Civil War, and they are, of course, still recovering, both economically and relationally.
I especially enjoyed the community in which this story takes place. The town of Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, came alive for me, and I took delight in the various people who made up the population of this small town. Of course, this was mostly due to the fact that I spent most of my childhood years growing up in the same area that was described in this book! At one point Hickory Ridge is described as “a small town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains,” which describes the small town where I lived (south of Knoxville) very well.  Because of this, the setting of this book was endearing to me.
While I did enjoy this book, it did feel somewhat disjointed at times. I’m not sure if I can really explain exactly why I feel this way. I guess it was that it sometimes felt as if the characters’ conversations jumped around a lot when they were talking to each other, or that the events in the plot occurred sometimes without much rhyme or reason.  The main characters, Wyatt and Ada, could have been more well-defined. I also was a little confused as to the characters’ relationship with God. At the beginning of the book, neither Wyatt nor Ada professes to have a faith in God. By the end (hopefully without giving too much away!) they both seem to believe in God, but I’m not sure when that faith actually took root.
On the whole, I enjoyed this historical fiction novel, mostly because I loved the setting and the townspeople of Hickory Ridge.
I will give “Beyond All Measure” by Dorothy Love…3 ½ Bookworms.

Read my review online at The Christian Manifesto here.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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