Unfortunately, this post is late due to internet problems. Sometimes, life just doesn’t work right, which is what the protagonists experience in the book I’m reviewing today.
Back Cover Copy:
Set at Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America’s history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.
Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts the invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Harding’s head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.
Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.
As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loves, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.
If you’ve read past posts here, you may know I’m a Tamera Alexander fan who has read all of her novels. So, of course, I picked this one up. I’m particularly drawn to her gentle writer’s voice.
In my humble opinion, To Whisper Her Name is her best work since From A Distance. Though close to 500 pages—a looong book for me—it was well worth reading every single one, especially when one of those pages ends like this:
“How long they stood that way, he couldn’t say. He only knew that when she slipped her hand around his neck and drew his mouth down to meet hers, he realized for the first time what bittersweet tasted like.”
Now, I know the context of Ridley’s thought is important and not visible here—don’t want to give too much away—but believe me, it packs a punch.
Due to their circumstances, the reader gains an instant affinity for both Olivia and Ridley. Each has been impacted by the Civil War in a way that makes them social outcasts in the southern state of Tennessee. This is a story of rebuilding—lives, fortunes, self-esteem.
While Ridley has a bit of a wicked sense of humor, Olivia is pure southern belle propriety. Both characters grow in a realistic manner, especially Olivia as she learns to accept a new way of life and God’s plan for her future.
The secondary characters are equally interesting. General Harding continues to harbor bitterness at the South’s defeat while struggling to bring his thoroughbred farm out of the red and accept his wife’s physical frailty. “Uncle Bob” Green is like a wise, old grandfather–someone you want to advise you in any and all matters, someone to lean on and tell your troubles to.
To Whisper Her Name is the second novel Ms. Alexander has written that revolves around the historic plantations near Nashville. The first, A Lasting Impression, gave insight into the Belmont Mansion, the antebellum home of Adelicia Acklen. I recommend them both.
So if you’re looking for a sigh-worthy post Civil War romance, carve out a few hours to explore Belle Meade Plantation with Olivia and Ridley.
I have received no compensation for this post and have no material connection with any product(s) mentioned. Embedded links are strictly for the convenience of my readers.