In these four novels, there’s no problem too big for the power of faith.
Where does courage come from? For the women in these novels, faith in God is their guiding light during moments of self-doubt, heartache and mayhem. Though set in vastly different times—from 1770s Boston and 1870s Chicago to present-day North Carolina and New York—these stories share some of the universal challenges that women have faced throughout history. Collectively, these tales reveal that the courage to defy convention and follow your own heart comes from believing that God is right by your side.
The Tea Chest
In Heidi Chiavaroli’s The Tea Chest, we meet two very different women from very different centuries dealing with similar questions of love and responsibility. In the present, Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is on the verge of making history by becoming the first female SEAL in the U.S. Navy. In 1773, Emma Malcolm is about to change history by helping the man she loves carry out what will be known as the Boston Tea Party. Emma’s choices are limited by the times she lives in and by a father who is an English Loyalist, while Hayley’s struggle is steeped in self-doubt from an abusive childhood. When Hayley travels to Boston to make peace with her past, she runs into the man she once loved—and then finds a tea chest that holds one of Emma’s secrets.
Though their stories are separated by centuries, Hayley and Emma share a heritage of courage and faith that guides them to their eventual callings. Chiavaroli does a wonderful job of adding historic details to Emma’s struggles, making this novel a page turner for sure.
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Veiled in Smoke
Jocelyn Green’s Veiled in Smoke takes us to 1870s Chicago, where Meg Townsend and her younger sister, Sylvie, run a small bookstore called Corner Books & More. Between their responsibility to the store and to their father, who suffers from lingering trauma from his days as a soldier, the sisters can barely keep up with their own lives and aspirations.
When a fire sets the city ablaze on the night of October 8, 1871, their lives become even more complicated. Their bookstore and home is burned to ashes, and in the chaos of the night, their father is somehow arrested for murdering a well-respected man. How could anyone carry on in such pandemonium? Meg and Sylvie’s story illustrates that when all is lost, God provides the courage and strength to seek the truth and rebuild for a brighter future. With strong supporting characters and historical facts woven throughout, Veiled in Smoke makes for a great read.
A Long Time Comin’
Robin W. Pearson’s first novel, A Long Time Comin’, brings us to contemporary North Carolina, where Beatrice Agnew has just found out she is dying of cancer. Surprisingly, she’s not upset by the news. Life has always been terribly hard and unfair for Beatrice, so why be upset now? What does make her angry, however, is that her granddaughter, Evelyn, has come uninvited to help Beatrice mend fences with the rest of the family.
Beatrice’s seven children might be successful now, but there was no room for love in the Agnew household while they were growing up poor and fatherless. Beatrice wants no part in this little reunion, because dealing with the past means digging up old secrets. She believes that her choices were forced by circumstances that her granddaughter could never understand. But Evelyn and Beatrice have more in common than they realize, as Evelyn is struggling with her own marriage and possible motherhood. Together, the two women confront pain and secrets and try to move on without any regrets.
The Fifth Avenue Story Society
In Rachel Hauck’s The Fifth Avenue Story Society, a strange invitation connects five New Yorkers in an old library on Fifth Avenue. Lexa is an overworked and overlooked executive assistant at a big company. Jett is a literature professor struggling to finish his latest book. Chuck is a divorced Uber driver who misses seeing his kids. Ed is an aging widower who works as a super in his building. And Coral, the multimillionaire owner of a cosmetics company, is famous for leaving a real prince at the altar. The only things shared by these five almost-strangers are broken dreams, and their story society becomes less about writing and more about helping each other.
Hauck is spot-on in creating characters that are relatable, and she skillfully saves the mystery of who sent the invitation until the end. This is a sweet journey of five people finding the courage to follow their hearts and make big things happen.