A Sound Among the Trees
Released: October 2011
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Source: Blogging for Books
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
I was in the mood for some historical fiction earlier this week, so I picked up A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner. Taking place at an old plantation named Holly Oak in Fredericksburg, Virginia, A Sound Among the Trees traces the life of the house and the lives of the women who have inhabited it for generations. Adelaide, the current matriarch of the house at ninety-years-old, has just witnessed her grand-daughters husband remarry after her untimely death. Marielle, the new wife and mother, is trying to fit in at Holly Oak, but rumors about the house being haunted and/or not actually haunted are preventing her from settling in completely.
A Sound Among the Trees reminded me a bit of the novel Cane River, but from the slave-owners perspective rather than the slave's. Both books follow the female line of the family for generations and in A Sound Among the Trees, it was interesting to see how those generations of females related to each other, even decades after death. The book focuses mostly on Marielle, though she felt a little out of place to me because she was not blood related to the women before her. At times she came off rather dense about history and her surroundings, but I think ultimately her heart was in the right place and I can't help but admire her for that.
A note on the writing: Susan Meissner is a great writer and I feel like she was easily able to capture the different voices of the generations. In particular, I enjoyed the roughly one-hundred pages of the novel that were old letters Susannah (the supposed ghost haunting Holly Oak) had written to her cousin. They were extremely well written and were the highlight of the novel, particularly as they highlighted the historical aspects of the Civil War from a female perspective.
In the end, we learn what really was plaguing the women of Holly Oak. While it wasn't necessarily paranormal as I was expecting it to be, it made sense as all the pieces fell together and I wish the concept had been explored more by the author.
Overall, A Sound Among the Trees gets three stars from me. I enjoyed reading about the family line and the mysteries of the house, but at times the book felt a little slow and the ending felt a little hasty. Nevertheless, A Sound Among the Trees is a must-read for Civil War fiction fans and I think readers who also enjoy Jodi Picoult and the like will enjoy this one. If you would like to read Chapter One, you can do so here.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book compliments of WaterBrook in exchange for a review. This did not affect my rating.