Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Review: Tower of Strength

To go along with my temple theme this month I have a treat for all my readers: a book review of Annette Lyon's newly released work Tower of Strength! Tower is the fourth in Annette's historical novel series about the early latter-day temples (previous volumes include one on the St. George temple, one on the Logan temple, and one on the Salt Lake temple that is also a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing).

The latter work was what initially drew me to Annette Lyon's books--my closest friends know I am a big Shakespeare fan and that I loved the film Much Ado (I even own the sound track). But after reading just one of her books I had to read more. So I was incredibly honored when Annette asked me to review her new book and be a stop on her blog tour.

But before I get too far, here is the description of Tower of Strength from the back of the book:

"It was 1877 when Tabitha Hall Chadwick left Manti as a young bride. Now, nearly seven years later, she returns as a widow with her young son to make a new beginning. Tabitha's strained relationship with her mother–in–law adds more difficulty to her life as a single working mother. Yet with a stroke of courage, Tabitha makes two purchases that become her passions: the local newspaper and a traumatized horse.

"As she struggles to meet the challenges of her new roles, Tabitha welcomes the friendship of Samuel, a recently widowed British immigrant. Working together to train the abused horse, the two discover a second chance at love. But when Samuel is critically injured during the construction of the Manti Temple, Tabitha faces the pain of old wounds and the risk of new ones.

"Weaving themes of loss and renewal, this poignant tale explores a vital choice each of us must make: to seek safety in isolation or to embrace the painful yet beautiful complexities of life and love."

Now on to the review. Overall, I thought Tower of Strength was my favorite of all of Annette's writings thus far. The plot is surprisingly relevant to modern day despite being historical. And the characters were well-rounded and likable. Details regarding the time period and the building of the Manti temple (i.e., the continual explosions to mine stone) were genuinely interesting without overwhelming the rest of the plot line.

One of the things I loved most about Tower of Strength was the emotional truthfulness I felt the main character, Tabitha, possessed. In the book Tabitha is widowed very early in her marriage and at a young age. The challenging impact this turn in her life brings lasts for years down the road as Tabitha tries to sort out her emotions and make the best of things. Some authors may have assumed seven years might have healed their main character after experiencing such a traumatic event. Annette Lyon does not make this assumption, but instead uses the lingering pain to add depth to the Tabitha's character and the overall plot.

Additionally, Tower of Strength uses some beautiful symbolism I thoroughly enjoyed. When you read it {and I know you will :-}, pay close attention to the symbolism of Mantia (Tabitha's horse). I can tell Annette put a lot of time, thought, and effort into the details of Mantia's character. Trying to catch all the symbolism was half the fun of reading the book.

In celebration of the release of Tower of Strength author Annette Lyon is having a week of giveaways on her blog. She has some GREAT stuff -- including a CD-rom copy of my book (Adventures with the Word of God), jewelry, a new blog design, a gift pack from Urban Organic Parfume, some darling baby products, music, and a gift basket of chocolate goodies. Head on over there asap to get yourself entered!


But if you are not lucky enough to win a copy of Tower of Strength, be sure to go out and buy it. I know you will love it!

Scripture of the Day: 2 Samuel 22:7

8 comments:

  1. sounds good I am going to check it out.

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  2. AWESOME! Thanks for sharing this! I l♥ve Annette Lyon! ♥ Hugs :)

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  3. Sounds very cool-
    Which book is the first in the series?Or does it matter if you read them in order? Drop me an email because I think i'd really like to read this next.

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  4. It does not matter which one you read first because the characters are different in each. The temples are what tie it together as a series. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

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  5. You are such a great book reviewer!

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  6. I was looking for a book to read next week during spring break and while I am back in Utah helping with my mom. So, when I saw your recommendation, I ordered it--to be delivered to my parents house. (Unfortunately I read your blog just after I got back from Deseret Book) You are a good saleswoman. :-)

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  7. I really enjoyed "Spires of Stone" and am excited for this book. Annette is a great writer.

    Thanks for your review!

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Comments are much appreciated!