By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley–Book Review

This historical novel is based on the life of Ann Low, one of the most famous dress designers of the 1920’s through the 1960’s. Ann developed her skills under the tutelage of her mother and grandmother, a former slave. At a very young age she married an older man who proved to be an abusive alcoholic. He thwarts her talent and dreams for a time. Luckily, she is given the chance to escape to Tampa, Florida when a wealthy socialite recognizes her ability and offers her a job sewing for her family. She encourages Ann and underwrites her education at a design school in New York. Eventually Ann settles in New York and becomes a designer to those listed in the Social Register. She fashions the wedding gown of Jackie Kennedy, among others.

Ann’s story is filled with hard work and tragedy, as well as triumph. Throughout she feels led by God and supported by her church family.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. A light and inspirational read.

For more Christian fiction see these book reviews:

until Leaves fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin–Book Review

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry — Book Revie

Beneath the Bending Skies by Jane Kirkpatrick–Book Review

Beneath the Bending Skies is a novel based upon the life of Mary Sheehan Ronan, originally told in Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, published by the Montana Historical Society. It is a realistic glimpse into life in the old west.

Mary (who goes by Mollie) led an interesting life which included many moves (you will be reminded of the Little House books), along with tragedy, tribulation, and joy. Her mother dies when she is quite young, and through the example of her stepmother, Ma Anne, she learns that women must be “agile” by adapting to changing circumstances and putting their trust and faith in God. She is able to maintain an optimistic attitude, believing that:

“We will have to listen for God’s guidance…. Something will come up. There are always new possibilities.”

This is wise advice for all of us, and a message I needed to hear right now.

By the end of the story, Mollie and her husband have settled at the Flathead Reservation in the Mission Valley of Western Montana, where Peter is the government agent. The agency becomes known as a welcoming place and attracts many visitors (including the wife of Lt. Col. George Custer). Mollie develops her gift for hospitality and “neighboring” and Peter works for justice for the Indian tribes among whom they live.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. A light but engaging historical read.

For more reviews of novels see:

The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron–Book Review

white picket fences by Susan Meissner–Book Review

until Leaves fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin–Book Review

The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron–Book Review

Although the characters in this historical novel are fictional, it is based on an actual situation. In 1943, when the German officials occupying Rome gave orders to clear the Jewish ghetto, some escaped to the Fatebenefratelli Hospital and the adjoining San Giovanni Calibita Church, where they were sheltered and saved by an invented disease–“Syndrome K.” Nazis who came to search the hospital were handed masks and advised that a highly contagious plague was spreading through the patients — they declined to search the “quarantine wards.” This allowed time for those hiding to be provided with false documents and spirited away.

The story moves from 1943 when a young Jewish girl is saved at the hospital through the intervention of two American medics, to the present day. The girl is now old, and the soldiers who rescued her have died. Before dementia sets in, she is able to tell her story to her own grandson and the granddaughter of one of the medics, as well as deliver some historic documents to the Holocaust Museum in Rome.

Of course, there is more to the story, including some romance, and the themes of forgiveness, faith and reconciliation are woven in as well.

There were many characters, and yet none were developed completely enough to create a sense of empathy in the reader. In the same way, the Christian topics were only addressed in a rudimentary way.

VERDICT: 3 STARS. If you’re looking for an easy to read, historical romance, you may like it. I was not impressed.

For more Christian fiction see:

until Leaves fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin–Book Review

The Purple Nightgown by A. D. Lawrence–Book Review

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review

until Leaves fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin–Book Review

If you are looking for some light reading this historical romance may be just the thing. In 1940 Lucie Girard, an American living in Paris and performing in the Paris Opera Ballet, has a decision to make: should she flee to America, or remain in the city she has come to love? The decision is made easier when she learns that her Jewish friends, the Greenblatts, will have to abandon their bookstore to avoid Nazi persecution–that is if they can raise the money to start over. Lucie quits the ballet, buys the bookstore, and embarks on a new life journey with twists and turns she could never have imagined.

I’m usually not one for Christian fiction, but this novel is well written and had enough historical detail to maintain my interest. The romance is formulaic and predictable: the protagonists meet and encounter difficulties which could derail their relationship, but in the end, love triumphs and all is neatly wrapped up. The characters are Christian, and their faith if portrayed realistically, as simply part of their lives.

VERDICT: 4 STARS. Not amazing, but an acceptable, easy read.

For more Christian fiction see these posts:

The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton–Book Review

The Purple Nightgown by A. D. Lawrence–Book Review

pearl in the sand by Tessa Afshar–Book Review

Hope’s Highest Mountain – Book Review

I always like to start my reviews with a little bit of information about the author. Misty M. Beller is an author who has set her stories in the 1800’s frontier. She has several well-received series and this is the first in a new series titled “Hearts of Montana”.

This book is a fiction book but I can believe that some of the incidents and locations referred to in the story exist or have existed.

Hope’s Highest Mountain is about a young woman named Ingrid Chastain and her journey to a settlement to deliver a smallpox vaccination. The book starts with a horrifying accident that claims the lives of her entire traveling party, including her father. She is found in freezing conditions, seriously hurt by a “mountain man” who later turns out to be a doctor with a past.

I do not typically read this genre of book, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was enthralled by the storyline and once started I did not want to put it down. The author uses descriptive language to bring the reader into the physical surroundings and paints the picture so well, I sometimes thought I could feel the cold.

I also loved that the main character’s Christianity was soft in its delivery but firm in the showing of her faith. You were led into the story of her hero’s walk back to faith in a believable way.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a Christian romance with sustenance.

I have received a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer according to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

You may purchase this book at the link below: