Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book Review: The Best of Times

On the drive up to Colorado I listened to The Best of Times, a novel by Anita Stansfield (DB 2009). I had actually purchased the book on CD for my mom for her birthday in December, but she brought it on the trip and we listened to it together. It helped to make the long drive North go by much quicker.

From the back of the CD case:

“'I want to be with you, but I have to make sure I’m in a position to give you what you deserve, and I’m not sure I’m the man to do that.” Chas put a hand over her mouth to hold back her emotion, glad that he couldn’t see the tears rolling down her face. . . . “I need time Chas, because if I’m going to commit my life to you, I don’t want it to ever go bad. I would rather have you love me in memory than come to hate me because I couldn’t give you what you deserve.'

A sprawling Montana setting; a charming bed-and-breakfast inn brimming with Dickensian decor; a beautiful and deeply spiritual innkeeper with secret sorrows from her past; a “Granny” who is as delightful as she is wise; and a handsome guest whose lifestyle and past are both troubled and troubling — these are the elements of a captivating novel of romance and intrigue.

With characters that are vital and vulnerable, and a plot that is wholly unpredictable, this story is a journey of choices and amazing opportunities.

Once again, Anita Stansfield proves her versatility as a storyteller extraordinaire in this novel that is an ingenious blend of romance, mystery, and Dickensian charm. The Best of Times will prove to be a favorite in the best Stansfield tradition."

I loved the tie-in to Charles Dickens in The Best of Times; Stansfield does a great job of honoring Dickens without losing track of her plot. She is able to bring up several of Dickens' greatest works and even has some plot parallels. I also enjoyed the FBI part of the plot that added mystery and suspense to what would have otherwise been a somewhat flat romance novel.

The only thing I did not like about The Best of Times was some of the repetition of the main characters' thoughts and feelings. Maybe it was more pronounced because of it being the CD version, but it seemed like the author over emphasized how Chas and Jackson's past experiences made it more difficult for them to fall in love and commit to each other. Maybe it would not have been so obvious in the written format.

Scripture of the Day: 2 Peter 3:18

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