Monday, December 22, 2008

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

As Charlotte drew closer to the looming grey edifice that was to become her temporary home, she could not help but notice the secretive shuttered windows. Then she noticed the milkweeds...

::Spoiler Alert:: Rated: 5 stars
Charlotte Lamb has made a mistake that will change her life forever. A mistake that her father the vicar refuses to forgive, a mistake that causes her sister to despise her, a mistake that sends her to a temporary home for unwed mothers. The man who contributed to her situation, Edward, had no intention of doing the honorable thing by marrying her, not when he could marry her cousin and gain a fortune. She is alone in this world, until she meets an old suitor, Dr. Daniel Taylor, who is battling his own demons. Daniel is married to a woman who suffers from manic depression due to her pregnancy. He loves his wife and remains faithful to her, but still has feelings for Charlotte. Charlotte is unable to keep her darling son and makes the ultimate sacrifice that any mother would dread to make: she gives away her son to the very man who so cruelly slighted her. Meanwhile, Mrs. Taylor gives birth to a little girl who they name Anne. His wife is unable and considers it beneath her to nurse her daughter, so Charlotte steps in as the baby’s wet nurse and nanny. The awkward situation continues even a little while after his wife does better, at least until Charlotte feels that it is time for her to move on. She takes a different position as a wet nurse for another couple but doesn’t hold that occupation for very long. Mrs. Taylor is pregnant again and in a drastic attempt to return to her country, she dies. To help her old friend, Charlotte returns to caring for Anne as if she were her own daughter. When the proper time of mourning passes, Daniel proposes to Charlotte, but she refuses because her soul still needs healing after what she experienced. A few years pass, Edward’s wife dies and it only makes sense to him that he should make Charlotte his wife, that way she could finally be a true mother to her son.
I swear, no matter how many times I read "The Lady of Milkweed Manor," I always end up crying like a baby. Then ending is bittersweet and everything you could hope for for Charlotte. The Christian message is subtle and not at all preachy. While Charlotte loves her son with all her heart, she regrets her mistake and is humbled through out the story. In the flashbacks she is shown as a carefree and innocent girl, after her "fall" she matures into a strong, independent young woman. I also admire the character Daniel Taylor; here is a man who loves and is attracted to another woman other than his wife, but there is no place in the story where he cheats on his wife or treats Charlotte with any impropriety.
Julie Klassen’s newest book, "The Apothecary’s Daughter" is out in the bookstores now and I eagerly am waiting (not so patiently) until I can read it.

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