Plot Summary: A starving orphan named Ethan is adopted by the loving O’Dell family from Illinois in the mid 1800’s. Their lives are filled with love, growth, and laughter. But then they are all changed forever by the advent of the Civil War, and Ethan chooses his own path. From the battlefields of Shiloh, TN to the upper echelons of society in Washington DC, Ethan’s story is one of God’s love and mercy.
My Book Review: I believe I had “The Alcott Legacy” Trilogy by MaryAnn Minatra on my To-Read List for years and was excited to finally get my hands on the first one in the series. When it came via InterLibrary Loan, I was a little disappointed by the cover. It sort of looked like a fluffy romance to me, and I briefly considered taking it back to the library. But then I started reading the dust jacket, which said that in publishing the book, Harvest House had done a rare thing in accepting an unsolicited manuscript. Looking the book up on amazon and goodreads, I saw that it received quite a high rating among other readers, so needless to say I was intrigued.
I was immediately carried along with a boatload of characters on a wave of time through the years. I got a sense that this story was somehow going to be a subtly grand one, even if I couldn’t figure out where the story was going at first. It sort of felt like watching an ant farm—all the players going about their lives. The book was aptly titled. There are all these different colored strands that took a while to figure out how they would weave together. To the best of my knowledge “The Tapestry” was Minatra’s first published work, but I felt I was in the hands of a good storyteller.
Several romances play out over the course of the saga. We start off with the relationship between Will and Rebecca. Right away alarm bells were going off because of their rushed romance and Will came off too strong in the beginning for me to believe he would end up being such a good husband and father. But I needn’t have worried about it being fluffy. The author knew how to craft a well-written love story, prolonging suspense and letting the delayed longings of the characters marinate before bringing them together. I especially enjoyed the romance of Wyeth and Henri. Romances usually tend to stop after the proposal or wedding, or if a couple’s married life is included in rest of the book or series it usually tends to drop it’s excitement and is portrayed rather dully. But this author does a lovely job of writing about married life as a picture of joy and fun, amid everyday trials and sorrows. Although hinted at here and there, the book never gets very edgy, something I appreciated.
About three-quarters of the way through the book, I began to get a little antsy. The war seemed to drag on a bit too long and nothing really seemed to be happening. SPOILER ALERT: At times I wanted to throttle the main character, Ethan, for being aimless and cowardly when it came to any sort of relationship with Sara. But that was part of the lesson he learns during the course of the story, I suppose. I was glad to see Sara didn’t lower herself by pushing for a relationship with Ethan when she saw it wasn’t going to happen. It sort of seems to be a bad habit of mine to fall for the other character the heroine is not supposed to marry, and yet again I found myself wishing Sara could just marry Frank the Doctor (I liked him much better than Ethan.) This is probably a very bad sign of my judgment! END OF SPOILER
I believe there were just way too many characters for the story’s good. New people flitted in and out of the book without seemingly much of a purpose. I often got the sense that the author was unnaturally trying to fit into the story lots of famous people that our main characters were destined to meet, yet I didn’t always know who they were in history. It seemed a little too improbable that our hero would coincidentally meet with so many famous people.
By the end of the book, there were a few unresolved things that left me feeling unsatisfied. What happened to the Cash family down south? What happened to Henri Mullins’ health after the war? I am not sure if this is because the author will pick these dangling threads up later on in the following two books, but I certainly hope so! I do look forward to reading the next installments of this historical fiction-trilogy! I would recommend this for Civil War buffs and Christian fiction lovers.