Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

This is the story of Holly Oak, a house in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the generations of women who lived in the house between the Civil War and present day. A cannonball still stuck in the side of the house is a reminder that it survived the war, but it did so because the family had connections to both sides. Rumors say the house is haunted, that there are Yankee soldiers buried in the cellar, and that one of the women in the family was a spy for the North.

Beginning in this way, with Adelaide, the great-granddaughter of the supposed spy, hosting a wedding reception in her garden, I had high hopes for the book. Adelaide's daughter and her husband Carson had lived in the house. Their two children were born there. Then the wife died and Carson and his kids had stayed at Holly Oak, believing the children shouldn't be moved from the only home they had ever known. Now Carson has married a young woman from Texas and they too will live at Holly Oak.

The bride, Marielle, has had a successful career and is presumably an intelligent woman. But this is where the story begins to fall apart for me because Marielle suddenly turns into a timid, frightened, gullible child/woman.

Holly Oak is full of secrets and rumors that no one has bothered to investigate and set to rest. It's like a soap opera where everyone keeps secrets which cause all kinds of problems. I kept thinking, "What's the big deal? Why don't these characters just come out with it?" This could be such a good story but I'm sorry, it just didn't work for me. Nor was there any sense of place and motivation was lacking for the characters' actions.

This is just my opinion of course and you might love the book. It is coming out Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. If you like family sagas and historical fiction, this may well be the book for you.


  1. I hate when big big issues for characters seem totally overblown to the reader. I think I will skip this one, even though I have a deep love for Fredericksburg, and go there whenever we have extra time in D.C. I love the battlefield, of course, and I love the downtown area. And I love the beautiful landscape all around it. By the way, if you've never read the account of the battle on the National Park Service website, it's just terrific. Link is here:

  2. Jill, Thanks for the link. I think this book would make you impatient.

  3. I liked reading your thoughts, but not sure I would enjoy this one as much for some reason.

  4. Sorry this didn't work for you. I'm the same way when there just doesn't seem to be a point to the story.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about this character Marialle. I see it happen in books, movies and tv. If a character is going to be timid in the end, they should be timid all the way through. It's their personality, it stays with them. I blame it on lazy writing.

  6. Too bad it was disappointing. It sounds like it had some promise. Thanks for the heads up.