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Dearest Josephine

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Caroline George sweeps readers up into two different time periods with an unexpected love story that prompts us to reimagine what it means to be present with the people we love.

2020: Chocolate and Earl Grey tea can’t fix Josie De Clare’s horrible year. She mourned the death of her father and suffered a teen-life crisis, which delayed her university plans. But when her father’s will reveals a family-owned property in Northern England, Josie leaves London to find clarity at the secluded manor house. While exploring the estate, she discovers two-hundred-year-old love letters written by an elusive novelist, all addressed to someone named Josephine. And then she discovers a novel in which it seems like she’s the heroine…

1820: Novelist Elias Roch loves a woman he can never be with. Born the bastard son to a nobleman and cast out from society, Elias seeks refuge in his mind with the quirky heroine who draws him into a fantasy world of scandal, betrayal, and unconditional love. Convinced she’s his soulmate, Elias writes letters to her, all of which divulge the tragedy and trials of his personal life.

As fiction blurs into reality, Josie and Elias must decide: How does one live if love can’t wait? Separated by two hundred years, they fight against time to find each other in a story of her, him, and the novel written by the man who loves her.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published February 2, 2021

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About the author

Caroline George

20 books282 followers
Caroline George is the multi-award-winning author of Dearest Josephine (HarperCollins) and other YA fiction titles. She graduated from Belmont University with a degree in publishing and public relations, and now travels the country, speaking at conferences and writing full-time. A Georgia native, Caroline aspires to one day host The Great British Baking Show and delights in being best known for writing the phrase, “Coffee first. Save the world later.” Find her on Instagram @authorcarolinegeorge and Twitter @CarolineGeorge_.

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5 stars
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42 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 578 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,195 reviews40.6k followers
September 30, 2021
Okay! I’m confused. So many thought balloons flying above my head! A three star read normally means I’m standing at Switzerland border: neither I liked it too much nor I hated this book!

But this time: I liked and I disliked several things at the same time about my reading. Yes, this is another first which also meant it was compelling thing to decide between three and four stars, evaluating my pros and cons.

For giving a clear picture of my foggy opinions I listed the reasons why I liked and disliked this novel at the same time. Here we go!

I liked this book so much because I always keen on seeing different ways of telling the stories. Using letters, emails, texts, novel manuscript is creative and entertaining way of introducing the characters and processing of the story.

We have three main sources of story: Josie De Clare’s present day emails and texts which involve her communication with best friend Faith, new friend and possibly third wheel of her love triangle, charming boy next door Oliver and her mom.

We have mysterious letters written to Josie De Clare by Elias Roch but interesting fact even though those letters share the same name with our heroine Josie, they belong to regency era and written to a mysterious woman Elias Roch met at a masquerade. He saw her only one time and he truly fell for her. Present time Josie finds these letters at a Northern England estate where she recently inherited after her father’s sudden past away. So how those letters can be written for a woman who share exact same name with her?

Our third source is Elias’ manuscript he has written for his devoted love Josie who is married with his cousin.

You got confused, right? Join the club!

Time crossed lovers theme is another tempting story idea which I wholeheartedly fall for! So I liked the original, creative ideas and writing style. And I also adored Faith and Oliver’s characterizations! These elements are strengths of the novel!

But... here are the reasons I fell out of love with this book:
The execution of these powerful ideas failed me...
If you ask me why I say : well, time crossed lovers’ story was not credible for me. It was too insta love without any depth, any powerful emotion that make me feel their true love! I didn’t believe in them. And even though I adored the supporting characters, I disliked both Josie and Elias. I still don’t know what makes their love so powerful or did they truly fall for each other? Because there is not enough proof, sentimental facts about their soul mate kind of intimacy!

Whether I truly enjoyed the idea and writing style, when the love story didn’t resonate with my feelings, the book is doomed to fail for me!

I still liked to read more works of the author because I found the idea of time jumps and gathering past and present via different inscribed sources very creative!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Nadine Brandes.
Author 7 books2,506 followers
February 14, 2021
DEAREST JOSEPHINE is the type of story that becomes your own. The characters’ heartaches worked their way into my own chest until I hurt with them, hoped with them, and dared to dream with them. This book is teeming with swoon-worthy prose, adorable humor, and an expert delivery of “ Will they end up together?” I guarantee you’ll be burning the midnight candle to a stub to get answers. Step aside Pride and Prejudice, there’s a new romance on the English moors.
Profile Image for abthebooknerd.
270 reviews144 followers
December 15, 2020
I’m grinning like an idiot, and I can’t stop.

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions. It took a minute for me to get into it, because of the format, but it was so compelling. This would honestly make a great movie. I loved Josie! She always had me laughing. She was so relatable.

He touched my candy with his tobacco-stained fingers and said, “One awful period, huh?”

All manners went out the shop’s window. Instead of answering the question with a polite NO, I wiped my tears and yelled, “Neil, I’m having a real crappy day. Give me the chocolate.”

And the sass of Elias *bows down*

“I daresay you care more about sleep than entertainment,” Sebastian said.

“Sleep is my entertainment.”

His love letters were the stuff of fairytales. I was swooning so much! I was hardcore shipping him and Josie, but then...I won’t spoil anything, but that ending was what Rom-Coms are made of. I love you to the moon and back - er, well, can’t say his name because spoilers, but you know who you are *wink*

Also, let’s give a round of applause for Faith Moretti. She was SUCH a great friend!

*insert clapping noise here*

The writing, as well, was just pure magic. I was constantly highlighting little tidbits here and there. They were truly iconic. I think I may have found a new author to obsess over…

Indeed, to perish from illness while surrounded by books seems fitting, for I am more ink and paper than skin and bones.

You have a story, Josie De Clare. A flipping wonderful story. And I want to be a part of it for as long as you let me, because this - what’s happening between us - is better than fiction. Real. This is real.

I would have loved it even more maybe if it was in traditional first-person, but in a lot of ways, I think that’s just how this story is. I see a lot of reviewers about other books saying “well, I didn’t like it because the author didn’t tell it this way” and believe me, I understand! But sometimes there’s no other way to tell a story. And with this one, it was perfect. I’m honestly keeping my eyes peeled for a movie adaptation just because I think it would be amazing.

Big thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing House + Netgalley for sending me an ARC of this beauty!

*Note: Any quotes referenced in this review may be subject to change in the final copy.
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
487 reviews178 followers
April 13, 2021
What a book.

This is not my genre. This is not my kind of story. I went in expecting a rom-com, something historical fantasy-ish, which I've come to realize is actually one of my least favorite genres.

This wasn't.

It wasn't historical fantasy. It wasn't a rom-com. It was serious. It had depth and beauty and so so so much to it that made me almost cry multiple times.

It was a story of lost and found, breaking and putting back together, the stories we write for ourselves and the stories we must live out. It was about defining our futures and our loves. It was about how to love well, how to get oneself out of the rut you've gotten yourself into, how to fight to find love but also for your love once it is found.

The characters made this.

Josephine and her spicy comments, her certainty about what she wanted while at the same time being so brutally uncertain, her heart on her sleeve as a fresh response to heartbreak. She reminded me so much of myself, a girl who wondered what she was doing and yet knew. She was beautiful in her chaos. She was amazing and I loved her.

Faith was such a wonderful best friend, with her own agency. So practical and so beautiful. Her story with Noah is amazing, and I just...loved her.

OLIVER OH MY GOSH. I'll marry Oliver. Haha. What a sweet boy, so dry and yet hilarious.

Elias in the novel was much better than actual letters Elias. Letter Elias got a man-cold, pined and moped, and led girls on. Novel Elias was a heartthrob from Regency times. So hot. I loved him, and all his desperate attempts to please everyone while also knowing for a fact that he literally could not. He was awesome.

The rest of the cast was decent, but nothing terribly memorable. It was the symphony they created that was beautiful and made the book amazing.

I loved it. So, so very much.

This was a buddy read with my bestie Brooke and it was so much fun. Josie and Faith were so relatable, the story was so good, the writing, all of it.

Go read this book.

Profile Image for Issabelle Perry.
Author 4 books129 followers
August 17, 2022
*sobs into tissues* Why didn't y'all who've read the book pre-warn me this would rip my heart into shreds and then try to shove the messy lump back together again???

So in my first status update, I know I said the book was kinda meh, and it was at first BUT THEN we reached the middle of the book. And the end of the book. And now *sniffs* don't mind me, I'm a girl who just finished a REALLY GOOD BOOK and am now an emotional mess.

But it's all good.

I'll probably never be the same emotionally or mentally after reading this story.

But who cares?

It's worth it for the book.

The reason for the star cut-off was due to the continuing use of "OMG." I know everyone has different opinions here, but for me, I just can't hear or read God's name used in vain, even in the form of an acronym. You're allowed to have different beliefs, but God means everything to me, and I just cringe every time I hear His holy, powerful, awe-inspiring, magnificent name used so disrespectfully.

But besides that, honestly, this was a book I just needed right now in my life. For several reasons. And because of that, I really owe Caroline George my deepest gratitude. I doubt she'll ever read this, but if she does, then I have to say this. I needed this book. This story. This message. I really felt like God was whispering in my ear so many times. It put me on edge, it was hard to read at times, it made my heart feel things I thought I was past feeling, and through all the brokenness Elias and Josie had, I related instantly to that. And I think a piece of my own shattered and broken heart, might've mended just a bit. So Caroline George, if you ever read this, thank you. For writing this book, for publishing this book, and for sharing Elias and Josie's story with the world. Some people might believe in coincidences, but I don't think for a second it was a coincidence this book just happened to catch my eye on my way out of the library. That I just happened to put down another novel I was about to check out so I could read this one. That I just happened to stumble across it among the hundreds of other books and read it.

Alright let's be honest, I shouldn't be this open in a GoodReads review. 😂 Overall, this book was amazing, inspiring, and life-changing!!!

For a moment with you, I wait an eternity
Profile Image for Abigail.
Author 2 books176 followers
March 20, 2021
I am literally sobbing right now. I do not think that I can properly write a review right now. I knew from reading other people's reviews that this book was going to make me cry, but I did not know how it would. I had my hunch, but I was very surprised at how it ended. HOWEVER, I have SO MANY mixed emotions right now!! 😭😭 Part of me is kinda upset with how this book ended while the other part of me is swooning and in love with how it ended. I am literally a mess y'all. 😭😍😭

Although I cannot say much without spoiling this book, all I can say is that I LOVED the character so much! 🥰😍 I related to Josephine so much. I definitely am someone who has her heads in the clouds and would fall for a guy in the very predicament that she did. She was such a fun and loving character to follow. 😍💙💙

Elias was just a sweetheart. I loved being able to get to know him through his letters and the novel that he wrote, he literally touched and pulled at my heartstrings so much! 😭😍💙

Although I cannot say a lot about Oliver, his character definitely competed with Elias'. Due to spoilers, I need to refrain from what I need to say, but if you have read this book...PLEASE DM ME SO I CAN TALK TO SOMEONE. PLEASE!! 😭😭 I do not know how I can contain all I feel inside right now!!

Because of this book, my need to have my future boyfriend write me letters is at an all-time high. I just need him to do that for me. PLEASE. That's all I ask for, is for you to handwrite me love letters. I literally will be the HAPPIEST girlfriend in the world. 😂😭🥰

Seriously, this book definitely lived up to the hype. It took me a little longer to get into it only because I knew I was going to get really into the feels with it so I was a little hesitant to even pick up the book, to begin with, but there was no way that this book was not going to capture and pull me in. Even when my heart was fighting to "hate" the book, I could hardly put it down...😂😭 All I can say is that you NEED to read this book.
Profile Image for Melissa Tagg.
Author 36 books1,451 followers
November 17, 2020
I loved this book. Like, looooooooved it!

For starters, the format: With Josie's emails back and forth with her best friend, Elias's letters, and Elias's novel, we get three stories all intertwined and the author pulls it off brilliantly. I was completely hooked in each storyline and had no idea how the whole thing would come together, but it did and I love, love, LOVED it.

Then there's the writing: Bottom line, it's fantastic. I loved the distinct voices of Josie and Elias. I loved the wit and banter, the thoughtfulness, Elias's—at times—delightfully droll sense of humor. And the way the author manages to capture the atmosphere of an English manor in both present-day and centuries past through emails and letters is masterful. The emotional layering is deep and rich, and I FELT this story on so many levels.

I adored the romantic twists and turns (and definitely swooned at the ending). I especially appreciated the exploration of love compared to fantasy...how fantasy and imagination both help us and hinder us...and how deep, authentic friendships change us. Honestly, I was surprised at how deeply this story touched me! It was charming and intriguing, yes, but also so much more—a story that is still with me weeks after reaching The End.

I could gush on and on about this novel, but mainly I just want to go back and read it again . . . which I definitely plan to. Caroline George is a new favorite and I can't wait to see what she writes next!
Profile Image for Abby.
552 reviews112 followers
August 29, 2022
I need a day with you, then another. I need an infinite amount of last days with you because none of them, no matter what we do, will be good enough to encapsulate how much I love you.

I am destroyed and I need to savor this book before I can properly explain how much I loved it.
Profile Image for Becky.
5,195 reviews102 followers
October 21, 2020
First sentence: Hi Faith, I did a thing. A big thing. And I’m not sure how to tell you without sounding like the rotten human being who abandoned her best friend for a boy.

Premise/plot: There is a framework to Dearest Josephine that I'm guessing readers will either love or hate. Josie De Clare, our heroine, is mourning the loss of her father and has gone to an estate her father (secretly) owned near the Scottish border. While there she discovers a stash of letters addressed to JOSEPHINE DE CLARE and an unfinished manuscript of a novel. The writer is Elias Roch. The letters are dated 1820. (She also has a portrait of Elias in the house).

There are three concurrent plots for readers: 1) present day Josie De Clare emailing and texting her friends and family: her best friend, Faith, her new friend, Oliver, and her Mum; 2) Regency era, sulky Elias Roch writing letters to a mystery woman named Josephine De Clare that he met just once at a masquerade; 3) Elias Roch's FICTIONAL manuscript in which he fantasizes that he finds Josephine De Clare again--though there's a catch, she's engaged to his cousin. (This fictional novel changes some names--though not Josephine's name.)

As the present day Josie reads Elias' words, she falls madly, deeply, passionately in love--very very INSTA LOVE--with a man she can never have. The more she falls for HIM the less in touch with reality she becomes. Will Faith and Oliver--her present day friends--keep her grounded in the present and hopeful for the future? Or is she destined to be just as sulky as Elias?

My thoughts: I have many, many, many thoughts on this one. I do. I'll start with the positive. My favorite character is OLIVER. If there is redemption to be found in this one--redeeming it from being a I-regret-wasting-my-time-novel--it's in Oliver's personality and character. (I also like his grandparents. Though we don't get enough of them to really qualify as being minor-minor characters.)

The novel is told almost exclusively through letters, texts, and emails. We do get replies back. Faith's texts and emails to Josie. Oliver's texts to Josie. I guess I'm neutral about this narrative choice. I will say that the narrative voice(s) are a bit weak.

The love triangle is persistent yet weak. Readers can't really escape the fact that Josie is falling for TWO boys. Elias lived during the Regency period--I'm guessing he was born circa 1800 give or take a year or two. Oliver is her present day flirty-bantery-boy-next-door.

INSTA love is strong in this one. Without excuses and unashamedly. Josie falls INSTANTLY for Elias. Elias falls INSTANTLY for Josephine. Oliver falls INSTANTLY in love with Josie.

Everything is DRAWN OUT a bit unrealistically. I think in real life if one discovered a bundle of letters, one wouldn't space reading each one out so much. It seems that days--if not weeks--go by in between her reading of each letter AND individual chapters in the manuscript. This is a narrative technique so that Josie's story unfolds simultaneously to the letters and novel. But at the same time while it might be necessary as a plot device, it's a bit unrealistic. If you could sit down with a stack of letters--even if there were twenty or thirty plus--and a couple of cups of tea--over a weekend, then it would only make sense that you do so. The novel sections in particular seem drawn out. Josie must be the slowest reader ever.

Elias reads like he's the fantasy dream boy of a book-loving eleven or twelve year old. Josie is a college student.

The premise--if carried out--is intriguing. IF the present-day Josie de Clare is actually actually the mystery woman from Elias's past--if they are one in the same--then that might be intriguing enough if carried out well. Perhaps she hasn't met him yet--but she will--somehow, someway travel back in time and meet him. But nope. That's not this story, this novel.

Readers can choose whether or not to believe they are one in the same or not...but there's nothing decisive in the story besides Josie's stubborn persistence that HER ONE TRUE LOVE, HER ONLY SOLE MATE, THE ONE SHE WAS DESTINED TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER BLISSFULLY HAPPY was born two centuries ago.

The present day narrative is believable enough I suppose. I suppose that a young college age girl could write, talk, and act like Josie. Could.

The past narrative is a bit less believable. Elias' writing doesn't really feel time-appropriate? I mean the phrasing is a bit stilted. It's like he's writing in a modern-day voice with a few old-fashioned phrases tucked here and there. But it's almost like Elias is a bit fish out of water in his own time. For example, I couldn't figure out why/how it was that Lorelai, a young woman, could live unchaperoned with Elias for weeks/months so matter of factly. Young women--even if on the best most friendliest of terms--didn't just go and spend weeks/months with SINGLE men with no chaperones of her own or his own. It's the two of them in this estate/house plus a couple of servants. True, he's mainly so obsessed with sulking that he doesn't have lusty-lusty thoughts about taking advantage of her. But still. It just wasn't appropriate.

The novel-within-the-novel reads like bad fan fiction. In my opinion.


The words inside me are so palpable and consuming they withhold rest until I let them out in the world.
“Ah, I see.” She laughed, her face scrunching to make space for a grand smile. “You need not feel shy around me, though. I’ll be enough not shy for the both of us.” “You’re too generous.” Elias smiled beneath his shroud.
My headmaster once said we take from books what we bring to them, meaning books are but reflections of us. I share that belief now. For the sake of literature, I undressed on a page. I exposed myself in a quiet intimacy. Now I am seen and spent, and I have no more to show.
For years we envied the girls in romcoms. We hoped guys would look at us like that—like we were beautiful and one of a kind. You found Noah, but I had no one. Until now. Now I’m that girl, and I won’t pretend it doesn’t matter. Something fantastical happened to me. Two hundred years ago, a man fell in love with someone, and that someone—or at least her twin—found his letters centuries later. Elias and I were meant for each other. I must continue to search for his book even if you think I’m crazy because . . . I feel him like a sharp pain in my side.
Her kiss tasted like . . . finally.
That was all he wanted to be—the boy who saw a girl and never stopped seeing her, the boy whose love never grew stagnant.
My soul was made for your soul. A love like that cannot be forgotten.
Profile Image for Tamara.
660 reviews12 followers
February 12, 2021
Dearest Josephine is a unique take on love and grief through a series of letters, emails, and texts. The back and forth between the present and the past blends well. It really engaged me.

Josie has just lost her father to cancer and it obvious that she is angry but that anger and grief are diverted when she finds these letters written over two hundred years ago, that Elias Roch wrote to Josephine De Clare, Josie's namesake. And she falls in love with a dead man.

Dearest Josephine is a rich, thought-provoking, epistolary novel on what it means to be human, to fall in love, to hurt, to be angry, etc., and at the end, finding your happily ever after. For Josie, it didn't look as she thought it would in the beginning, but by the end, she was able to clearly see that even though she thought herself to be in love with a dead man, it was the man who loved her in the present that helped her see clearly where she was going.

My gratitude to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Tahera.
552 reviews225 followers
February 8, 2021
The highlight of this audiobook was the narration by Nathalie Pownall. She has a beautiful, clear, melodious and engaging voice which made me like this book so much more.

The story has three separate narrative threads: first a modern one told in a series of text messages and email correspondence between Josie de Clare with her best friend Faith, mother and the family who oversees her late father's estate, the second in the form of nearly 200 years old letters written by a Elias Roch to a Josephine de Clare which the modern Josie finds in one of the study rooms of her father's estate home and the third a novel manuscript written by the same Elias Roch. The author's smooth, beautiful and at times poetic writing style prevents any disjointedness in the flow of the story and effortlessly shifts from one narrative to the other which is further highlighted by the smooth, clear and emotive narration by the narrator.

My thanks to NetGalley, the publisher Thomas Nelson and the author Caroline George for the audio ARC of the book. I had a lovely time listening to it!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
Profile Image for Victoria Lynn.
Author 9 books610 followers
May 18, 2021
This book has stunned me and I love it with all the very depths of my affection.
I started reading it and didn't know what to expect. Caroline George was incredibly creative in the format with which she delivered this novel, so at first, I was interested to see how it would play.
I devoured it in two days.
The book was a stunning display of love, loss, and the intermingling of joys and sorrows. A story within a story and startlingly deep. Simultaneously lighthearted and effervescent, or melancholy and heartrending by turns.
I honestly don’t want to write a real review because I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say, I would take you by your shoulders, give you a good shake, and tell you to read this creative, masterpiece of a work of fiction. Or is it reality? I’m not really sure.
Dearest Josephine leaves you in a puddle of imagination, feeling like you just stepped out of an enchanted forest from another dimension. It thrilled my heart and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Definitely a re-read, that’s for sure!

*When you are swept off your feet. . . by a book*⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This lovely volume swept me back in time and to a land of foggy moors, English countryside, romantic, mysterious encounters, and old manor houses with all of the charm. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When the phrase "a way with words" comes to mind, Caroline George fits the bill so intensely, she might as well have been the one the phrase was created for. The writing in this book is so breathtaking. Cue the sticky notes! I had so many, I didn't know how to keep them all straight. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Most of all, I desperately love the messages of recovery from grief, and finding your home, even when you feel so desperately like giving up. Finding a home in the places where it might be hard to find. You can grow anywhere. Your roots are stronger than you think and you were created to be resilient and full of life, wherever you are planted. Christ gave us the ability to pour out and set down roots in even the rockiest of places. Because He is our light, our living water, and our daily bread. We aren't like most plants. We don't need the nutrients from the soil. Because all we need is from our Heavenly Father. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
One of my other favorite nuances to the book that is a more tiny sub-plot is I love how Josephine found love without looking for it. It came to her from a place she least expected and it happened to be the most healing, healthy, and perfectly made for her. She wasn't searching for it there, she wasn't forcing the issue, but God brought it around in the right time, in the right way, and it was infinitely more beautiful and worth the wait. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I won't give any more spoilers, but do yourself a favor and go read this delight of a book. You won't regret it. It is one of the most unique, romantic and poetic books I've ever read.
Profile Image for Erin Phillips.
Author 10 books215 followers
October 3, 2022
I get it. The hype is valid.
I don’t want to ramble so I will just say that the writing is good and authentic, but here are my two main thoughts:

1) Form: I love epistolaries so the form of this book was beautiful and I was enthralled. I love books that take advantage if the medium as this one has. The author used the emails, texts, letters, and novel chapters to weave a tale with skill and heart. This story could not be told any other way except on the page and I adore it, and respect the courage and risk necessary to accomplish it.

2) Theme: I love how simple and subtle, yet profound this book is, without being preachy.. It started as a cozy read and by the midpoint it was a spiraling story that felt more like I was holding a mirror than a book at times. How often do we get emotionally invested in things and people which are not able to return our affections? We so desire to be fully loved for who we are that we see ourselves in the stories we read. Sometimes, we long for the lives and heroes of those stories to the point of being blinded to the goodness God gives us daily, in the special ways that each of us need.
In the end, God knows how to answer our prayers in the best way - and it’s not always bringing our books to life.

It’s a great reminder to rest in God’s perfect timing and live in the present!

For the record: just as good the second time.
Profile Image for Allyson Jamison.
133 reviews
November 7, 2022
If I could give this more than five stars I would.

This book was a masterpiece. There’s no other way to say it. The raw emotion portrayed throughout this story was beautiful to say the least. I cried at parts and laughed at others. Sometimes I would just stare and wonder what this book was doing to me. This book made me think of parts of myself and wonder how I could become better.

Just as reading Elias’ letters made Josie want to be better.

Read it. Just read it. That's all I can say.
Profile Image for Breny and Books.
157 reviews154 followers
February 8, 2021
I can’t put to words what this book did to me. It stabbed my heart, mended it, and then stabbed it again, mercilessly. That’s the only way to describe it. The book blurb of Dearest Josephine doesn’t even begin to do justice to the story at all. But, really, does any book blurb do justice to rare unicorns like this? I don’t think so. *wipes tear*

How to even describe this book? Magical. The way Caroline weaves this story is incredible, incredible, incredible. The book is told with letters, texts, emails, and even a ‘‘novel’’ within the book. It’s the most ingenious book I’ve ever read.

First things first, the characters.

For me, sometimes it’s a little hard to relate to historical fiction characters, it requires a lot of skill to make them relatable and believable. Some authors tend to go a little too far with etiquette and all the classy things of the time, that they forget to show us the human side of characters leaving us with nice but non-relatable ones.

Well, this is not the case. Even though Caroline's characters were everything they should be in terms of society and expectations, there was a raw and human side to them I can’t explain. They were not just there; they were alive. They craved for the same things we now crave; they were quirky and honest and true to themselves. They built forts and drank hot chocolate; they rolled down hills and ate snowflakes. They were young people fighting to be who they truly were while dancing to society’s expectations and rules. Guys in this book cried, laughed, were silly boys, and some days mature adults. They had their highs and lows, and I loved that so much. The book depicts the war raging inside young people’s hearts and how they dealt with it, for better or for worse.

I won’t even begin talking about Caroline's writing style and voice because I won’t stop ranting and this review will get too long. Reading Dearest Josephine felt like snowflakes and sunshine, summer storms and cozy fires, roses, and thorns- an eclipse of bittersweet goodness.

I’ll just say, Caroline, you have become one of my fav authors and Dearest Josephine is by far my favorite read of 2021 <3

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5


-The word bas*ard is used throughout the book

-There is casual drinking (not glorified)

-Quick mention of a character having committed adultery in the past (nothing descriptive)

-Kissing (non-descriptive)
Profile Image for Ry.
129 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2022
WOW. WHY DID THAT END. IT'S SUCH A BITTERSWEET ENDING. I NEED ANOTHER BOOK. *is in LOVE with Oliver* (and Elias) HOW? XDD But Oliver and Josie's interactions through the texts were probably the most enjoyable part of the book. XD seriously, IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK TO FIND A GUY WITH THAT PERSONALITY??? XDD The ending tied off nicely but I wanna know more. I have questions. BUT IT'S SOO GOOD. (also me's in love with the 1800's time period. XD)
Profile Image for Rose (Adventurous Bookworm).
704 reviews95 followers
November 23, 2020
I wasn’t sure about this at first but oh my word, it was good.
At the beginning, I struggled to get into this book and I was tempted to DNF during The Novel parts. They were not super great or interesting. However, that soon changed. I couldn't flip the pages fast enough and absolutely did not want to put the book down. Unfortunately, my calc homework guilted me into setting it aside for a bit but once I came back, I was still just as invested in the story. All the sections grew on me and I loved getting swept away in multiple stories.
This book is so unique because it is told entirely through email, text, letters, and chapters. That is something I've only seen in adult books so it was really refreshing to find a YA with this format.
Overall, I'd recommend this one to both contemporary and historical lovers as there is plenty of each to go around.

Rating: 5/5
Language: n/a
Romance: crushing, ex-boyfriend who won't leave MC alone
Spiritual: n/a
Violence: death of parent
Note: mentions/talk of tampons/periods

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts are my own and a positive review was not required.
Profile Image for Rachel McMillan.
Author 25 books1,057 followers
October 5, 2020

"Dear Josephine is more than an immersive read, rather a book lover's dream experience. Josie's residence in a gothic English manor and her deeply romantic connection to Elias, years in the past, is as chillingly atmospheric as Rochester calling across the moors. But what's more is George's treatise on the power of books and character to creep across centuries, pull us close and invite us to live in a fantasy where we find love- literally - in the kinship of ink and binding. But more still the dangers of letting ourselves fall too deeply when sometimes an equally powerful connection is waiting next door.
This love letter to books and the readers who exist in and for them is a wondrously singular escape."
Profile Image for Abby.
145 reviews13 followers
February 4, 2021
I am speechless.
Review to come after I can figure out how to string together intelligible words. 🤣
Profile Image for Mazzy Mitchell.
109 reviews2 followers
March 24, 2021
I don't know what to say... this book left me breathless. I kind of wish I'd had time to cry about it? But throughout the day, I've randomly thought of this book, and thought, "wow, I finished it" and thought about the ending. I knew something sad was going to happen at the end, but, I can't spoil anything, so let me leave one word here: healing. 😭

The format of the book was beautiful! My only complaint, and this is due to my own laziness, is that because it took me a while to get into the flow of the story, I forgot some character names that were mentioned later on (and there weren't very many! Just more than I was expecting). Elias's letters were absolutely stunning and charmingly reminiscent of Mr. Darcy's cordial tone on occasion. Elias has such a heart, I want to cry.

And as to Josie, she is simply a super sweet character, someone I would love to have as a friend, and I think we get to be her friend over the story, glimpsing her raw, honest emails and texts to Faith, and so on. I thought their friendship was really sweet: not without its heartaches, but that simply made it more real. Sometimes, however, they felt unrealistic in a really ... beautiful way? Perhaps it's a reflection of my own unachieved ideals, but both of them really delved into their emotions through a medium like email (which, for an epistolary novel, is necessary to some degree), and that didn't seem normal, but I think it really stood out in a stark but lovely way. Josie's friendship with Oliver is also super sweet, while explored a bit differently.

As to the romance between Elias and Josephine, I think it was hauntingly beautiful. Not in a dark way, like the tragedy of Heathcliff and Cathy, or in the picture-perfect ending of Darcy and Elizabeth. I daresay it blends the grief of Wuthering Heights with the lovable protagonists of Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes I thought at first glance that the physical attraction was a bit overplayed, but it also seemed like a picture of their love for each other... I'm not sure how I feel about it... but I treasure the other little moments they have together (if you know, you know).

Overall, this is an absolutely beautiful book. I'm on the verge of tears just thinking of it to write this review: it's a story worth visiting and revisiting in time of need. ✨
Profile Image for Chautona Havig.
Author 262 books1,532 followers
September 15, 2021
Reeling from the loss of a dear friend yesterday, I went onto my Kindle shelf and grabbed the first book that looked remotely interesting. Cover--it was all about the cover. I chose this one, or so I'd like to think. Truthfully, I believe the Lord chose it for me.

How else could I have been so moved, so comforted so blessed by a story of requited love that still ends happily but not as you might expect? How else could I walk away from this book comforted knowing that I had my years with my friend, and I'll have them again, but right now... now is the time for other friends.

The brilliance of this book isn't just the multiple stories within, it's not just the beautiful writing and the distinct voices. The beauty of this book are that all of those are tied in a beautiful bow of sweet, gentle lessons that never once feel like them. You'll cheer you'll hold your breath, you'll cry.

Everything happens exactly as it should and as you want it to--and nothing happens as you're certain it will or should.

Dearest Josephine isn't just a beautiful story, this book is rich literature without the pretension that usually smothers that word.
Profile Image for Faith Mathewson.
Author 1 book40 followers
August 29, 2022
Where to begin?

I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt through the first half of this book. I loved the concept and I enjoyed the letter and the Novel parts of the story (though they were still a bit slow), but I struggled to get into the contemporary characters and the email format (though that is definitely a personal thing—I admit I am very difficult to please with contemporary stories)

However by the midway point of the story it started to pick up and it was GREAT. I definitely still preferred the historical pieces, but I didn’t mind the contemporary parts.

The plot was interesting and definitely different, which I loved. I honestly had no clue where it was going or how it would end, so that was enjoyable.

The romance was beautiful and tragic and I loved every minute of it.

Overall a beautiful (and heart-wrenching) story with a perfect ending!
Profile Image for Emilie Haney.
558 reviews69 followers
January 29, 2021
Dearest Josephine was a combination of reading over someones shoulder as they wrote emails and living in a Jane Austen novel. I loved it!

First off, I started this book as an ebook and then at about 43% was gifted the audiobook and finished it that way for no other reason than I LOVE audio and can get to it faster. I loved both options. I enjoyed the combinations of texts, emails, a found novel, and love letters to tell a story. The author combined them in a masterful way and told a story that you wouldn't have expected at the onset.

I really liked Elias. *heart eyes* I mean, he was a bit mood at times, but for good reason. And I very much enjoyed his own novel creation as well as the insight into his real life that we got through his letters.

As many reviewers have mentioned, there was some 'insta-love' but, while at times I found the basis for his vast and undying love to be a bit suspect, I think it was cleared up well at the end as to why that was the case. And, in all honesty, I'm a romantic and love the notion of falling so madly in love with someone you just KNOW that they are 'the one' even after one meeting.

I thought the texts/emails might be limiting at first, wondering how the story would progress or feel 'full' but it worked out so well! Sure, Josie is maybe a little more verbose than any of us might be in email form, but then again...maybe not. I write LONG emails so I get it ;-)

And lastly, the ending. *SIGH* I won't ruin it here but it was perfect for this story. Just what I wanted and hoped it would be. And there was a point where I was talking to the book wondering: HOW? How will this work out? And then the end came and I nodded, smiling as I said: "this is perfect."

I'd definitely recommend this to lovers of Jane Austen fiction but also to those who enjoy a good love story told in a slightly different format than what they are used to. You'll find romance, friendship, struggles, and successes between the pages of Dearest Josephine.

My rating: 4.5*

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for gifting me an advanced copy in both ebook and audio.
Profile Image for Rosh [semi-hiatus].
1,437 reviews1,371 followers
Shelved as 'abandoned'
July 21, 2021
I hate DNFing books but unfortunately, this audiobook goes into my DNF stack.

The story seemed enjoyable and with memorable characters, one from the present and one from the past. Elias Roch especially is a character that goes straight to your heart. But for an epistolary book dividing the narrative across three perspectives and two timelines, having just a single narrator is too confusing. Nathalie Pownall does do a commendable job as the narrator with her peppy reading but her voice is too similar across the characters to distinguish a change in narrative unless you are listening with the utmost of concentration.

I'm sure this will be a very good novel to read, but I didn’t feel its writing structure doesn't make it suitable for audio format, unless there are multiple narrators. I might give the e-book a chance in future, but this journey with the audio version ends at 40%.

I'm still giving the book two stars, one star for the potential I can see in the story and writing that might make the print/digital book a worthwhile read, and one star to Nathalie Pownall without whom I might have abandoned this book a lot before 40%. It was only her spirited reading that made me give this audio version a genuine try.

Thank you to NetGalley for this audio ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jane Maree.
Author 9 books99 followers
August 5, 2021
WOW. What a story. I had high hopes for this book and while it ended up being wildly different than I'd expected, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I was wrapped up in the story and it just became my own!

The style of this book intrigued me so much. It's entirely told in emails, texts, letters, and a couple chapters of a fiction manuscript that one of the characters wrote. It was a little hard to get into the flow of the story sometimes because of this style, but I loved it anyway. It was so unique!

The characters are all so relatable and real and I was instantly drawn into their stories. I can definitely relate to falling for fictional characters, so this story was so captivating. The romance truly had me guessing the whole time and I was soo satisfied by the way it turned out in the end.

I love the feel of Caroline George's writing style and I can't wait to read many more of her stories in the future!!
Profile Image for alittlebitbookish.
160 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2022
June 28th 2022•
In the words of Mr Collins…
Oh Fuddle..
I have fallen for Elias Roch not once..
but ✨thrice✨
I loved rereading this book ohmygosh 😭😭🫶🏻🫶🏻
This book is like a new and ✨improved✨ Pride & Prejudice you guys
Forget Mr Darcy… I love Elias Roch🫶🏻

February 7 2021•
Wow wow wow.❤️ my heart❤️ I love this book so much! CAROLINE!!! A+ on the plot, A+ on the writing, A+ on everything! I even called it a few times. I was like “What if Oliver and Josie are the ones truly meant for each other?” And then I was like “Elias is gonna marry Lorelia.” I called it SO MANY TIMES. but I also wasn’t sure. But I knew Oliver was gonna play a major roll in it. I was still so surprised!❤️ I was pulled into this book and I couldn’t get out. My favorite book I’ve read of 2021. People, I highly recommend this book. You’ll fall in love like I did.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,258 reviews272 followers
March 20, 2022
This was conceptually interesting, at times beautifully written and a bit disjointed. I loved the first half and the fallible characters working through grief. I never had trouble reading it, although I admit I did skim here and there.

I'd say that I actually read it makes it about a 3.5 - rounded down bc I do not need to revisit.
Profile Image for Julie Carpenter.
1,388 reviews161 followers
January 17, 2021
I was pulled into this book and loved it from the beginning to the end. It was delightful! I honestly wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I saw the book cover (loved it) and read the synopsis (loved it too) and knew that I really wanted to read this one. I was excited for the adventure that awaited me within this book.

I listened to an audiobook version and have to say that it was pretty fun! You have to listen pretty carefully at the beginning to get used to knowing who the character is and the jumping around between the past and the present. But the narrator's voice was charming and I loved her interpretation of Josie De Clare and Elias Roch. Well done!

The book is written in the form of email and text messages between Josie and her dearest friend Faith. Text messages between Josie and several other characters. The text messages are differentiated with a bell sound and the emails are made known with the narrator reading the email address and to/from. Then Josie reads letters written in the past by Elias Roch to Josephine De Clare as well as a novel written by Elias Roch. The chapters of the books alternate between Josie, Elias and The Novel.

I loved how the story came to life through the written word. It was truly delightful! I had hopes for certain outcomes in the story but was delightfully surprised when it didn't happen how I had thought it would. Josie and Elias are from different time periods but have so many similarities and I love how they "help" each other. I won't say anything more than that because I don't want to spoil anything. And you truly just have to delve into the story and experience it to understand.

I was grinning and possibly giggling a little at the end of the book because I truly loved how it all came to an end. Grab a copy and enjoy this delightful book. If you've read other epistle style books and enjoyed them you will truly love this one. And if you haven't experienced this type of writing style, take a chance and dive in. This book is geared towards YA but I'm far past that age and I enjoyed it! My teenagers listened to a lot of the book with me and they didn't want to stop listening. It was a hit!

Content: I felt like this was a clean book, minus one aspect due to a word that is repeated. Other than that it was clean. There is nothing more than a couple kisses in the book. Elias' character is an illegitimate child and the author used the term "B******" for describing him. Back in that time it was what would be used to describe a child born out of wedlock. I did feel like the amount of times that this term was used at the beginning was kind of overkill. I think it could have been toned down a lot. I felt that it came across quite well that he was the illegitimate son and didn't need to hear that term over and over again. But I know not all readers mind that like I do. So if you don't like that in your reading, I will say it happens several times throughout the book. More so in the beginning of the book and it tapers off and only says it occasionally throughout the rest of the book.

I received a copy from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

Happy Reading!!!
Profile Image for Brogan Lane.
457 reviews149 followers
November 14, 2020
I had never come across Caroline George before, but I kept seeing Dearest Josephine on my Instagram feed. The cover grabbed me, and I instantly looked up what it was about.

Dearest Josephine features a dual timeline. One in 2020 following Josie De Clare trying to navigate her life after her father’s death, a bad break-up and discovering her father had secretly purchased an estate in Atteberry; and the second following Elias Roch 200 years in the past in 1820, who is trying to navigate his life as the bastard son and heir of a Lord, grieve for his mother and write. These timelines collide when Josie finds letters written by Elias all starting with ‘Dearest Josephine’, and a manuscript, in which Elias wrote about his life, and his love for a Josephine De Clare in 1820. We as the reader, not only read about Josie’s life in 2020 and Elias’ life in 1820, but we get to read Elias’ manuscript.

I loved the concept of this book, and as soon as Caroline George announced that ARCs were available on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. And I was incredibly intrigued for the first 80 to 100 pages, but I quickly lost interest when I realised that the format of the book was not going to change. Josie’s timeline in 2020 is written through emails between her and her childhood best friend, Faith, and through text messages with her mother and ex-boyfriend, and while this contrasted against Elias’ letters from 1820, it didn’t provide enough substance for me to care about anything Josie was doing. Emails aren’t supposed to be long and full of poetic prose and beautiful descriptions, but I think this book deserved that as Josie was at an old estate in the English countryside. I wanted to feel like I was there with Josie and wanted to feel the ambience of what a small countryside village could provide. But I couldn’t get that from Josie’s emails. As I began to realise the format was not going to change, I, unfortunately, wanted to DNF this book. It really pained me to come to the decision because I was looking forward to reading this book so much. The synopsis promised me a book I was definitely going to love, but the book itself didn’t achieve that.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for this ARC

Profile Image for Ella Ferris.
83 reviews
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 8, 2021
I have nothing against this book or anything, it just isn't the thing for me right now, as far as the format of it and everything. I dunno why, just not in the right space to enjoy it properly.
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