Tuesday, April 5, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack


It's 1836, and nineteen-year-old Fanny Appleton, a privileged daughter of a wealthy, upper-class Boston industrialist, is touring Europe with her family. Like many girls of her day, she enjoys the fine clothes, food, and company of the elite social circles. But unlike her peers, Fanny is also drawn to education, literature, and more intellectual pursuits. Published author and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is also touring Europe, but under much different circumstances. Recently widowed, he is gathering research for a new publication that he hope will secure his professorship at Harvard College. Befriended by the Appleton family while visiting Switzerland, Henry is introduced to Fanny and sees in her a kindred spirit, a lover of language and literature and high ideals. He is in love. Fanny, however, is uncertain. He is from a much lower social class and is older than she is. How could such a relationship ever thrive? Could a book of Henry's poetry, personally delivered, persuade Fanny to believe in a love that lasts forever and forever?


Josi Kilpack has written a tender love story for the ages based on the real-life courtship of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Fanny Appleton.  I found myself immediately drawn into the lives of both of the main characters as they enjoy their travels through Europe while struggling with the grief of losing loved ones, Henry, his wife, and Fanny, her beloved cousin.  While the main elements of the story are true, Kilpack is very straight-forward about the parts she fictionalized.  I really appreciated this since there is a great deal that isn't known about individual thoughts and feelings and exactly when certain things happened if at all.  I think what felt the most real to me was the development of the relationship itself as both Fanny and Henry grow and change throughout their 6-7 year courtship.  I loved seeing Fanny grow up and slowly start to realize that maybe social class and age difference aren't as big an obstacle as she at first thought.  And Henry has to learn patience and the importance of giving someone their space to grow and develop as needed.  Kilpack has created a story here that is both tender and realistic and a potent reminder that relationships require real work and a heart-felt investment of time and emotion.  I loved this proper romance just as I've loved all the others that Shadow Mountain has produced. Truly one of my favorite series!

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