In Willow Vale, Alethea Williams tells a fascinating story of two people whose lives have been torn apart by The Great War. Francesca Sittoni's first husband dies, and she is forced into marriage to an abusive man who takes her and her daughter away from their small Tyrolean town to the United States. After her second husband's death in a mining accident, Francesca answers a newspaper ad to work as a housekeeper for Wyoming rancher Kent Reed.
The war has damaged Kent Reed, both physically and emotionally. Through beautiful description and with believable character development, this book tells the story of how both Francesca and Kent overcome their hardships. It is obvious that the author has done her homework in her portrayal of life in rural Wyoming during this era. She has created a book that I enjoyed from beginning to end.
By the way, I have previously featured another excellent book by this author: Walls for the Wind
Faces wet with tears, Francesca Sittoni and her mother clung to each other one final time. Her mother's bones felt as thin and fragile as those of a bird. With little enough to eat for any of them, Francesca knew her mother had been giving much of her own meager portion to her daughter and to her granddaughter, Elena, to build them up for the trip.
The more Francesca thought about it, the more she pitied Kent Reed--and herself. She could see no happy ending for the two of them, and it made her sad to chop down the seedling of hope Agnes had planted before it had a chance to take root. But it was better so, that she destroy false hope, for her own sake and Elena's too.
Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance
Length: 162 Pages
Amazon Link: Willow Vale
Author Website/Blog: Actually Alethea
In this inspiring novel of hope, from opposite sides of an ocean two people wounded by the Great War are fated to meet and try to rebuild their lives. Francesca Sittoni was brought against her will to America by the husband she never loved. Now she finds herself alone-widowed, pregnant, and with a small daughter to support. Terrified of being deported back to the Tyrol valley of her birth in the Dolomite Alps of Italy, Francesca answers an ad placed by Wyoming rancher and former dough boy Kent Reed. As their contracted year together passes, Francesca begins to ask if she is cook and housekeeper to Kent...or a secretly sought mail-order bride as the meddling neighbors insist? Only Kent Reed, burned by mustard gas and his spoiled former wife's desertion, knows his heart's true desire when it comes to the beautiful Tyrolean woman now living in the uncomfortably close quarters of his small ranch house.
Sharon Wildwind of Story Circle Book reviews says, "This book is not only a fine read in itself, but it also could be a springboard to read with older teen-agers as an introduction to discussing what real love and real maturity mean. A lovely, hopeful story."