Picked this one up at the recommendation of a friend on my yahoo group.
LaVyrle Spencer was the Author of the Month for June and since I had never read her work I needed some guidance on what to select. At first I thought I would not have the chance to read this book so I got Small Town Girl in Audio book but this one came just in time and with everyone singing it's glory, I had to give it a chance. I don't regret it.
Will Parker has been out of Huntsville Prison for just a few months but he has live in a type of prison all his life. A bastard at birth, and abandoned shortly after, he has lived with the constant taunts and abuse typical of children of his status back in the 1940's. He went from foster home to foster home until he dropped out of school and ran away. Unfortunately his life didn't get any easier from there and after a betrayal from someone considered a friend, he spent 5 years in prison for a murder that in truth, was really an unfortunate accident.
Elly Dinsmore lives in a self imposed prison as well. Also a bastard at birth, she was raised in the home of her grandparents who were religious zealots. They locked her and her mother in the house for years, submitting them to shameful penances that scarred her emotions, if not her skin. When she finally was released from her 'prison' it was to go to a school full of bullies and heartless taunts that labeled her as crazy. She finally gave up on schooling and would escape to the woods where she would commune with nature. This was where she met her husband, Glendon.
Elly finds herself widowed with two young boys and pregnant with a third child. She realizes that she can not care for her property and decides to place an ad in the local newspaper for a husband.
Will was not very welcomed in Whitney but he was tired of roaming from town to town. He knew his gig was up when after just four days working at the local sawmill, the foreman, Harley Overmire, finds out about his criminal record and runs him off. Will is a sad sight at this point, malnourished, tired and dirty, he finds Elly's ad and goes up to the house to apply for the position.
This book was not your typical romance. It was more... real. More sweet and touching than any other I had read in a long time. There is not a lot of plot twists and turns but just a day to day recount of a couple that is getting to know each other, finding out they love one another in spite of their past, having to deal with life. What is so poignant about this book is how these two find a way to trust when no one has given them any reason to trust.
It kills you to hear their thoughts. Words stuck in their chest because they are like frightened kids who have had their hands smacked too many times to risk reaching out again.
The secondary characters are just as real as Elly and Will. Laura Marsh who you think will be all haughty and reproachful turns out to be so supportive and good. Gladys, the librarian who befriends Will from the first, puts aside her own fears because she sees Will needs her more than she needs to guard her feelings. And then there is Lula Peak who deserves her fate like no other.
Spencer has a talent to be admired creating characters that just jump out of the page. The pace is not what I was used to, since it was slower but it was so rich in descriptions and the characters had such depth, it will stay with me for some time.