When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet's sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.
Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed—being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman's life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband's heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.
Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.
Can their love endure, especially after "I do"? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?
"An excellent introduction to the early life and times of one of nineteenth-century America's most fascinating and influential women." —starred review
"...the book is surprisingly passionate and entertaining" —Publishers Weekly
"...the focus is on a young couple finding their path through the difficult first years of marriage, merging their very different expectations to build a solid partnership." —Historical Novel Society
"A thought-provoking and well-written read...Kilpack delivers another powerful historical romance. Meticuously researched...Will deeply resonate with readers. In fact, the narrative is astonishingly relevant for this day. Highly recommended." —Compass Book Ratings
|Book on CD||Unabridged, 8 discs, approx. 8.8 hrs.|
|Size||5.5 x 8.5|
|Published||Shadow Mountain 2017|
I wasn’t sure how much I’d get into this book just because the other similar books in this series were interesting but not my favorite. However, All that Makes Life Bright was really enjoyable for me. I’m not sure if it was because it was about a woman and I could relate better than the books about male historical figures, or if it was something else entirely.
Kilpack had me crying several times during this book. I couldn’t help but think that if this were set in modern times Harriet and Calvin would have divorced. It was touching that they focused on their marriage covenant when times got tough instead of just throwing in the towel.
It was a bit of a slow read for me, but not in a bad way. It was just real. I haven’t made it through all of the chapter notes at the end of the book yet, but I do appreciate that the author included those so we can separate fact from fiction.
One line stood out to me when Harriet’s father told her perfection is a sin. I’ve definitely never thought that before. Interesting.
*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
I just finished listening to this with my free trial of Bookshelf plus.
It's changed my perspective on working mothers or career mothers which I've never desired to be and have judged harshly. And I enjoyed contemplating my housekeeping failures and my disorganized nature. I liked hearing it all articulated through this fictionalized Harriet Beecher Stowe. And housekeeping was soooooo much harder in her day. I wish there had been more about her journey as an abolitionist but I guess Uncle Tom's Cabin speaks for itself. I love how this story focused on how motherhood shaped her and how overwhelming and desirable it is at the same time.
I love historical fiction and each Proper Romance novel that Josi Kilpack has written about a person who actually existed in history has been such a joy to read. I love Kilpack's attention to detail, author's notes regarding actual vs. fictional accounts, and the incredible way that she is able to bring historical figures to life. The story of Harriet Beecher Stowe was new to me. I had heard of her and knew she was connected somewhat to issues of anti-slavery during the Civil War because of her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, but that was all I knew. After reading this novel, I feel a great respect and admiration for the difficulty any woman in the early 1800s went through to live life and have some semblance of creativity, individuality, and a voice.
I think one of the reasons I loved this story so much is that I completely empathize with Hattie. As a mother of five children who also loves creative pursuits like writing, music, and art, I have found it to be a constant struggle to balance the needs of my family with my desire to continue developing other God-given talents. It was a balm to my soul to realize that I am not alone, nor ever have been, in my struggles. In this story, Hattie has a compelling need to write while at the same time absolutely loving the privilege of being a wife and a mother. Although not all details are exactly as occurred, I think it is fascinating that so much of the sentiments expressed were actually found in letters of correspondence to Hattie and her husband and other family members.
I am certain that when you read this novel, you will find something that also connects you to this influential and impressive woman who lived at such a tumultuous and pivotal time in history. All That Makes Life Bright will make you laugh, grit your teeth, cry, and feel the emotions of a time in history that continues to affect us now.
It's sometimes hard to imagine how life would have been if I had lived in the early 1800's when the country was changing so quickly and women were so repressed. But then Josi Kilpack comes along and makes me feel like Harriet's life could have been my life or the life of any of us because of the common desires, thoughts and feelings that inherently makes us women.
I did not know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe before reading this book other than her famous writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin. I love how personable Harriet and Calvin became to me and how much of myself I could see in them. Kilpack does an excellent job of bringing this bit of history to life and I loved her notes in the back for each chapter. It points to research well done which can be felt in each page of this book.
There is nothing heart pounding or edge of your seat in this book. It's simply a story about two people trying to work through the messy bits of life and relationships to find happiness and peace. I felt the connection to the characters and the story. I feel like I now have a better understanding of Harriet Beecher Stowe and I'm the better for it.
Content: Some references to intimate relations between a husband and wife with no details.
This is the third book I've read written by Josi S. Kilpack that brings readers real romances of historical, well-known authors. After reading each one, I've looked forward to the next. The constraints of writing about real people with well-documented histories make it so these books don't read like a typical historical romance, but they aren't meant to. Instead, they are a glimpse into the past and the struggles and experiences that molded creative minds--a peek behind the curtain of greatness. I admit that it took me a little longer to read All that Makes Life Bright than most of the stories I read, but books that make me think and re-evaluate my priorities, cultures, and beliefs generally do. Well-written and thought-provoking, this book is well worth the time.
So many thoughts occurred to me while I read. How grateful I am to have modern conveniences that give me time to pursue writing and reading while I take care of my family and home--appliances and grocery stores that allow me to even read and review. I am blessed to live at a time where I have a voice as a married woman--and that I've never had to know any differently. And to live at a time when we've come so far in overcoming slavery in our nation made me proud to read about the author behind a book that helped affect that change.
It was interesting to me not to read about the why Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote what she did (though I loved that as well), but the how it came to pass. Just as applicable today was the discussion between Hattie and her father about what is important work and what is frivolous, as well as the difference between pride and gifts and how to use them. In addition, I appreciated the wisdom Katherine shared with Hattie about finding balance, and there being a time and season. In all, another great book by Josi S. Kilpack.
I have so much love for the Proper Romance books, and this one is no exception. Kilpack's writing makes me want to weep....in a good way. She just grabs you right from the beginning, and brings you into the world of the books she writes. The writing is beautiful. The historical setting is awesome. I just don't think I can say enough good things about this book.
I like that Kilpack has taken on writing about Historical Figures in a few of her novels, it just brings them to life for me. This book especially. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't know anything about Harriet Beecher Stowe. I have heard of her books, but I guess I just never connected the author to the person. Does that make sense?
This book brought this amazing character right to my front room, while she lived her life in my head. Harriet, is a talented and intellectual woman. When she starts dating Calvin, he admits that her intellect is what endeared her to him. Harriet found herself moving on to the world of being a wife. She thought this would just make everything in her life just "that much" better.
Harriet's sister Catherine did not see it that way. She thought Harriet was wasting her life getting married just to be "ruled" by a man. Catherine believed teaching and writing were what Harriet's true calling in life.
I could never have lived in these times when women seem to just be door mats. I appreciated the fact that when Harriet first got married she didn't fall under the "typical" wife during that time. Although she found herself struggling to meet the "requirements" of being a wife, and now, after only being married a few short months, a new mom.
As I journeyed with Harriet and her struggles, and triumphs I felt as though I was living her life. That is how good Kilpack's writing is for me. I felt her pain as she struggled to fulfill her duties to be a wife, writer, artist, and mother. I felt her triumphs. I felt her sadness.
Harriet and Calvin's marriage is not an easy one, but it is one that is worth reading about. I have to admit at the beginning I really disliked Calvin, but as the book goes on, I came to realize what a really wonderful man he was. It just took him some time to figure it out as well.
If you like historical romances with historical figures :)....you will love this book. Kilpack is an amazing writer. Her stories play out as movies while I read them. I yell, cry, and walk away with frustration at times, because that is how "real" her characters become to me. Such a great book.
Source: I was given this book as part of a blog tour. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.
I'm loving these proper romances based on literary figures' lives! Ms. Kilpack has found a fun niche; I like that she does her research and tries to form an accurate picture of what might have occurred in the lives of these important figures. In my mind, Harriet Beecher Stowe is Uncle Tom's Cabin, and that's about it. I didn't really know anything else about her, and you know what? I think she and I would have been besties. Like her, I have struggled to keep clean house (I'm a perfectionist, but kids make that an impossible dream...), and dinner is never ready on time when my husband gets home. Yep, I think Hattie and I would have been on the phone (if it were available) chatting about how in the world we were supposed to sand the floors and tie the bed frames and take care of the kids without burning dinner. Hahaha! I'm pretty sure I've had similar conversations with my friends over the years. I felt for Hattie and a little for Calvin. I think he was just a little spoiled and should have been able to help out a little more at the beginning. I told my husband I was glad I didn't live back then because I would not have put up with his attitude. I'm not going to tell you--you'll have to read it to find out what Calvin requested as their daughter's name. Oh boy! It's a doozie! This is a fun read. It's well written, it flows well, the dialogue is realistic and the characters are well developed. I couldn't help but relate to Harriet. I did hope to learn a little bit more about how Uncle Tom's Cabin came to be, but I'll just need to find another book written on that. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It's a fun, entertaining read. I would recommend it for YA readers and up. You may read my full review on my book blog: the-readathon.blogspot.com.
I knew nothing about Harriet Beecher Stowe before I read this book, although the name was familiar. It was fascinating to learn about who the real woman was- most known for authoring Uncle Tom's Cabin, while also enjoying a fictionalized account of a portion of her early married life. (In the afterword the author tells chapter by chapter what is based off research, accounts, and letters, which I appreciated). I had many feelings while reading this book! The author does a skillful job of showing the perspective of both Harriet and her new husband Calvin, and making the reader sympathetic to both sides. It made me remember the first year of my marriage and the transition from being centered on one's self to being required to care for another's desires as well. Harriet's circumstance is more extreme of course, with the role of a wife still strongly traditional, not being raised to keep house but rather pursue intellectual edification, and becoming pregnant quickly and giving birth. Although they love each other, Harriet and Calvin are opposite in nature and the frustrations that build ebb and flow until a breaking point is reached (which was surprisingly emotional for me and I had to wipe away a few tears). I loved Harriet's strong desire to keep a hold of herself and continue what she and many viewed as her God-given talent and purpose of writing, especially to persuade her readers to a new opinion or viewpoint. Her struggles with keeping a balance in her life are all too real, and the pressure from several people whose opinion she values add to her burden. It shows how important it is for a couple to take each other into consideration and be compassionate while still feeling heard and respected. Sometimes it seems impossible, but as Harriet and Calvin each turn to God in prayer their hearts are softened and the answers that they seek begin to come, along with the blessing of peace. I loved that this story was based on a real woman who had a major influence on our country's history, and it showed that she like so many struggled with, learned to manage, and found joy in the balance of self and home.
(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
I have the hardest time picking favorites, but that being said, this is one of my very favorite books that I've read this year! I loved everything about this book. I loved the way the author put the story of Harriet Beecher Stowe's life on paper. I loved her sweet love story and I loved the way these true to life characters jumped off the page for me as I read.
The characters in this one are amazing! You see the point of view of both Harriet and her husband Calvin. That gave this one so much more depth than it would have had if the only view we saw was Harriet. I loved that I learned a lot about this great woman. Quite honestly, if you had asked me before I read this book the other day what I knew about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the only thing would have been that she wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin. I loved that I was able to learn a bit more about her and about what an amazing woman she truly was.
I loved that the love story showed Harriet and Calvin's up and downs. Because marriage is work for all of us and they were no different. I liked the way the book showed her struggle to find a way to be herself, even with the demands of marriage and motherhood, because that's a real struggle for all of us as well.
Maybe that's what really made me like the book the most. She was a real person, with the same kind of real problems that we all deal with. And she lived during a difficult time in history. There were tons of things going on both for and against slavery during this time period and she wanted to know where she stood on the issue and once she knew that, she wanted to know how she could help others form their own opinions.
This is one of those you need to just go buy! You won't regret it!
In a way, this book was hard to get through. I have felt all of the overwhelming feelings and sense of losing ones self that Harriet talks about. It was hard to read about someone else going through almost exactly what I feel. However, it was comforting to see that things were worked out and to see how they worked out for her and Calvin. It was interesting to learn what added to and helped Harriet become the great writer she was known for. I would recommend this book to anyone.