Title: A Love Restored
Author: Kelly Goshorn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: June 6, 2018
About the Book:
With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to Society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal. Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earns him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad-a position that will garner the respect he craves. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?
If I hadn’t already known that this was a debut novel I would have never believed it. Kelly Goshorn has written with the talent of a seasoned author. I was hooked from the very first chapter on a journey that took my emotions on a roller-coaster ride. There were moments I found humorous, depressing, encouraging, and then there were those moments that made me angry. To say I felt fully engrossed in the story may be an understatement.
The story started off with some light-hearted humor that immediately caught my attention. I thought it was hilarious to see Benjamin calling Ruth Ann “Miss Fancy Boots” before he was acquainted with her. I really enjoyed the witty humor that was exchanged as the characters developed a friendship. It’s the type of relationships I like to see as romances are formed. It very much reminded me of the development of Elise and Thornton’s relationship in the Orphan Train series by Jody Hedlund.
One thing that was very clear in this story, was the emphasis on physical appearance and identity. A Love Restored takes place after the end of the civil war and therefore was in a time when race was a prevalent hot issue in communities. The end of slavery led to a great number of displaced people and/or a group of people in desperate need of education in order to have a better chance at life. Much to the disapproval of many in her community, Ruth Ann had agreed to teach in a school for the colored. She knew that those threatening violence were afraid of the change that needed to come, and therefore she refused to give-in. She thankfully had some men who were able to provide protection for her as well. She allowed her comfort to be compromised in order to help provide hope and a future for the coloreds in her community. Her passion and bravery was praise-worthy.
Ruth Ann is one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever read. The lies she’d been led to believe about herself simply because of her appearance broke my heart and angered my spirit. Despite their good intentions, her family (mother specifically) had led her to believe that she’d be lucky if any man expressed interest in her because of her “ample figure.” Her worth as a woman was negated by her appearance. Let me tell you, when you hear those lies often enough as you grow– those lies (and their wounds) run deep. You start to identify yourself by those lies instead of the truth of who God has created you to be. Kelly has masterfully weaved this into Ruth Ann’s character in a way to make the reader examine the lies they themselves have listened to. I won’t lie there were some parts that were difficult to read as you see Ruth Ann have to experience the pain of some of those lies lived out in order to experience healing.
Kelly Goshorn has done an amazing job on her debut novel. I will admit I am still processing much of what I just read. It really struck my emotions as a woman and affected me on multiple levels. As women we have a long, hard journey of learning to identify ourselves in Christ and who God has created us to be instead of what the world would lead us to believe. This story will grip you and cause you to examine many of your own emotions as you see the characters live them out. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on Kelly in the future, and I’m curious to see what she comes up with next. I definitely recommend this book.
*I received a copy of this book through a blog giveaway. I was not required to share a review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness/Content Warnings:
*PLEASE NOTE: This section may contain mild spoilers but I do my best to reveal the difficult and/or triggering content without giving away the story
I don’t want to spoil too much, but I have to share for the trigger warning- that there is a brief moment that a character’s emotions lead them to contemplate taking their life by drinking a bottle of laudanum. This is not a prevalent emotion throughout the story but IS present for one scene. The story does strike some painful emotions when thinking about and dealing with self-esteem and self-worth when it comes to appearance/weight. There is one scene that lasts a few chapters that has some pretty heavy violence. This wouldn’t be my first choice for younger readers and I would keep the trigger warnings in mind. I personally wouldn’t recommend under 15 or 16.