Thursday, March 5, 2015

Willow Vale - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

     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

Beginning:
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.

Friday 56:
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

Synopsis:
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."

                         

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35 comments:

  1. I've always been fascinated with narratives that revolve around the aftermath of war, mostly because I find inspiration in the people who overcome those indescribable hardships; this one looks promising! Have a lovely weekend Sandra :)

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    1. The characters in this book are strong, determined people--even though they have their flaws. The story was fascinating.

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  2. This one is going on my wish list. Thanks for sharing.

    A Husband For Danna.

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  3. It has been too long since I read a book set in Wyoming...having been there a few times over the years, I enjoy the prospect of immersing myself in a book set there. Thanks! And thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. I haven't been to Wyoming, but I've been to surrounding states. I'd love to go there! Instead, I enjoyed reading this book set in that part of the U.S.

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  4. That is sad. Isn't it? I would keep reading.

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    1. I wouldn't say the story is sad, although it does have sad parts. I found it to be uplifting and generally happy.

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  5. At one point it seems like romance, the next a sad story on the devastation of war.

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    1. Although there is some romance, it's more a story of both characters' struggles and triumphs.

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  6. This sounds very much like something my book club would like to read! Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Oh wow, this sounds like a really inspirational read! Francesca looks like a great character with a lot of drive who unfortunately finds herself in the worst of times! Thanks for sharing :) I hope you have an amazing weekend!
    My Friday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

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    1. You've nailed it, Juli. It's a terrific story.

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  8. The Beginning was heart breaking! http://lisaksbookthoughts.blogspot.com/

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  9. This sounds like an intense poignant read. What a lot Francesca has to go through. I'll have to look for this one.

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  10. Sandra, what a nice surprise. Thank you so much for once again featuring my work on your blog. And thank you to all who left the lovely comments. Lauren, if your book club is interested in reading Willow Vale, let me know. I can provide some copies, especially if anyone is willing to leave a review.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Alethea. I definitely enjoyed both Willow Vale and Walls for the Wind and look forward to reading more of your books.

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    2. Thank you very much for the offer - I have to see what happens with the book club. :)

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  11. I love books set around the time of the war and this sounds so sad... may have to read is someday

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    1. Hi, Lauren and everyone who commented that Willow Vale is a sad book. When it first came out, my son didn't want to read it because he thought it would be sad. The book is really all about hope, not giving up, and realizing the American dream.

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  12. I love historical fiction! Especially well-researched titles. I'm writing a 1920s novel and I know how challenging it can be to write the simplest scene when you have to research so many little things. Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by my blog!

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    1. I love historical fiction too. I think you'll enjoy this well-researched story.

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  13. Great beginning lines...very descriptive. I love historical fiction.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and thanks for coming by my blog earlier.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Beginnings

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    1. I've been reading more historical fiction lately. It's fun to learn about the past through the context of a story -- especially when the author has done her research.

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  14. No, no, no. There's always hope. How does the saying go? It's always darkest before dawn. Hope you enjoy your book!

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  15. This sounds like a really interesting read. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. :)

    Stormi

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  16. Looks like a heartfelt story and the historical aspect must be interesting. Enjoy!

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    1. I found the harshness of living in rural Wyoming (back during that time) to be fascinating. It's amazing that people survived.

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  17. Great 56 really intriguing and intresting I am not really a fan of Historical Fiction but this one looks and sounds really great. Thanks for sharing and stopping by my blog.

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  18. Sounds like a story I'd enjoy. Thanks for sharing it and for visiting my blog.

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  19. Wow, excellent #56! I love to read about wonderful people with very hard lives, who hold on to hope when faith seems so insurmountable!

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  20. The 56 sounds so sad. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy reading!
    Amanda

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  21. Sounds like an emotional read!
    Happy weekend!

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  22. I think I'd go for this one, it sounds very inspiring.

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  23. Hi Sandra,

    This is probably not one I would go out and buy for myself, however if the opportunity ever came up to read it as part of a blog tour, or may be a Goodreads or NetGalley 'freebie', I would be more than happy to give it a go!

    My own father-in-laws mother, lost two husbands to different wars and she never really got over the emotional turmoil of it all, being left like Francesca, only in her case with three small children to support. As FIL's mother died some time ago and I never really got to know her, it would therefore be good to try and get a real feel for how tough things would have been for her, both physically and emotionally, as it is one topic of conversation on which FIL will never be drawn.

    Both of your passages are excellent, although I am sure they only hint at the stresses and strains which Francesca must have endured.

    Thanks for sharing, an excellent choice of book :)

    Yvonne

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