This post took me slightly longer to compose as I wanted to do justice to the book and its author, LaVyrle Spencer.
A while back, when I lamented the lack of good early American Historical romances, a few fellow readers came back with quite a few suggestions. One of the books recommended was Morning Glory.
Now, I’ve heard of Ms Spencer before. I’ve even walked past a shelf full of her works in the second hand bookstore I frequent. But I’ve always passed her up for some other Regency or Fantasy. So, when both Cindy and Kristie recommended this book as one of their Top 20, I was piqued, and that curiosity has been well rewarded.
This poignant romance set in the small town of Whitney, Georgia in an America on the brink of joining WW2 brings together two lost, battered souls – social misfits and outcasts both – in a wonderful tale of second chances, love, courage and honour.
It started when handsome ex-con Will Parker answered reclusive and recently widowed Elinor Dinsmore’s advertisement for a husband. Expecting a crazed woman who’d chase him off upon learning his disgraceful past, he was surprised by the kindred spirit he recognized in the kindhearted but cynical mother of two. Grudgingly giving each other a second chance at life, Will and Elinor pitched in to work on the farm left by Ellie’s husband.
As their uneasy partnership grew into a familiar and considerate friendship, and life looks brighter on the lonely homestead, Will and Ellie find themselves falling for each other. When they finally got married, war loomed and Will was drafted into the Marines. He came home a decorated war hero, thinking he could finally settle down with the woman he loves and enjoy his family. But he has to battle the ghosts of his tormented memories, deal with some misplaced guilt of failing a friend and face a murder trial involving the town’s promiscuous tart.
What made this story etch itself into my mind long after I’ve returned it to the rental store was the many tender touching moments, the life affirming message of love, honour, friendship, courage and forgiveness. Spencer has wrought an inspiring story with lush narrative, characters with grit who rose above their circumstances and prejudices against them to become strong, loving partners, and a compelling plot.
Will and Ellie are such flawed characters, each with emotional baggage they’re struggling to deal with, yet they were so willing to see the innate goodness in each other that together their love healed their emotional scars and erased the wounds of their harsh past. Some of the most heartrending scenes were those of them attempting to profess their burgeoning feelings for each other, but somehow the moments were foiled by some clumsiness of the situation or careless remarks. It was a very satisfying moment for me when they both finally realized how much they love, and how far they’d go to protect, each other. Spencer is sensitive to such precious moments and treats each scene with the right amount of respect without over-dosing on the sappiness, so that it goes straight to your heart, and you couldn’t help but emphathise with them in their frustration and hurt.
Her rich description of the setting and place brings early small-town America to vivid life for me, and I think this is one of the reasons why the book really grabbed me.
This is the kind of positive, uplifting book that one could do with every once in a while. An instant pick-me up when you’re feeling down and life seems bleak. I know, ‘coz long after I closed the last page and sighed with satisfaction, the warm, fuzzy, hopeful feeling lingered.