Book Review: To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a murdered carpetbagger, gratefully accepts an invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation and the dearest friend of Olivia’s late mother. Expecting to be the Harding’s housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned once again when she learns the real reason why Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Caring for an ill Aunt Elizabeth, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a southern-born son who—unbeknownst to her and everyone else—fought for the Union. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him while harboring secrets that threaten his life. As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again…

Set within the remarkable history of Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, comes a story about enslavement and freedom, arrogance and humility, and the power of love to heal even the deepest of wounds.

Release Date: October 1, 2012
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley

I really loved this book!  I did not expect to like it nearly as much as I did.  It took me a while to really fall in love with the characters, but once I did, I could not put To Whisper Her Name down.  I read it on a car trip, and it made the hours in the car simply fly by.  In fact, I was so busy reading that I forgot to talk to my husband...he had to keep starting conversations with me, conversations I was so eager to finish so I could get back to reading!

Olivia is a recent widow, and has to endure the shame of her husband's shady business dealings and the circumstances surrounding his death.  Her husband's family leaves her with nothing to live on, and she has nowhere to go.  Her mother's best friend, Elizabeth, invites her to come and live at Belle Meade plantation.  Belle Meade is, among other things, a horse farm, and Olivia is scared to death of horses.

On the way to Belle Meade, Olivia meets Ridley Cooper.  He is also traveling to Belle Meade, looking for work.  He is a former soldier who has traveled across the country to learn from the famed Bob Green, Belle Meade's gifted horse trainer.  Olivia and Ridley are far from fast friends.  He thinks she is stuck-up and she thinks he is too free with his words and actions.  However, neither can deny that they have an attraction, and a grudging friendship ensues.  

To Whisper Her Name occurs directly after the Civil War.  The events of the war and the toll they take on each character and the nation as a whole shapes much of the novel.  I loved that aspect of the book: to feel like I got a true glimpse of what life was like during that time.

Besides the historical aspect of the book, I loved the faith element as well.  Both Olivia and Ridley slowly come to accept God in their lives.  The ending was just perfect, and I was so happy picturing the happily ever after for myself.

I highly recommend To Whisper Her Name and look forward to reading more from Tamera Alexander.


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