Dimity's Reviews > A Sound Among the Trees

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner
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Oct 19, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: 2011, civil-war, first-reads, ghosties, historic-fiction, read-women-fiction, reviewed, reading-women-2011
Read from September 30 to October 03, 2011

I’m going to preface this review with a bit of a complaint. When I signed up to win this book from the First Reads program, there was zero indication in the description or author’s blurb that this book is a contemporary Christian novel. I have no objection to Christian presses or authors writing Christian novels but I am a secular gal and I feel a bit annoyed that this book was not accurately described. I often see novels that either make it implicitly or explicitly clear in their descriptions that they are intended for a religious audience in the First Reads list. I don’t enter to win those books because by and large, I am not interested in reading those books. When a book like this is presented with no indication of its religious underpinnings, I have to assume the not mentioning it is an attempt to trick the unknowing into reading these books. I think I speak for at least 99% of the population that reading a novel with mildly religious undertones isn’t going to get people into churches. So if this really is the case to get a secular population to read religious novels, I don’t appreciate it. Not to mention handing out a religious novel to people who don’t follow that religion probably isn’t going to garner a lot of glowing reviews.

To get onto the actual review now. This novel looks like a historical fiction novel based on its cover and cover blurb, but almost all of it is set in present day Fredericksburg where the past’s echoes reverberate loudly for the Holly Oak family. (Historic fiction fans, rest easy as there is a hunk of this novel set during the Civil War and written in epistolary form between Adelaide’s great grandmother living in Fredricksburg and her cousin living in Maine.) The Civil War continues to play a large role in family matriarch Adelaide’s life; she lives in her ancestral antebellum house complete with an embedded cannon ball from the Battle of Fredericksburg and she makes Confederate uniforms for Civil War reenactors. There are many rumors swirling about the ghosts of Holly Oak and although Adelaide is quick to dismiss such rumors, she has her own opinion about the house’s women’s notorious bad luck, including her granddaughter’s death at a young age. As Adelaide settles more into her old age (she’s 90-something) changes happen with her extended family that prove no one’s life is static, even in the twilight years.

In all, I thought this was a rather typical historic fiction novel and the story was compelling and fun to read. For years, I have loved reading about the Civil War and appreciate how A Sound Among the Trees depicted both the torn loyalties of many Americans as well as the Civil War’s presence in modern life. But as an agnostic (or something like that), I was not thrilled by the book’s wrap up. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here but let’s just say I find it highly unlikely that faith alone can solve 60 plus years of mental health and addiction issues as it seemingly did for one of the supporting characters. However, I can see Christian fans of historic fiction and light novels digging A Sound Among the Trees.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Thanks for this review. I had this book on my to-read shelf and probably tried to win it as well but I too am not interested in contemporary Christian novels. I would have been extremely disappointed to find that out after the fact!


message 2: by Rhonda (new) - added it

Rhonda Ruff i have read many of her books the christian part is usually very limited. I do not like to read christian fiction and i have enjoyed all her books


message 3: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia I didn't know that 'Christian fiction' was a thing.


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