By the time I swiped left the first time, I had this feeling. Hope Between the Pages wouldn’t be a good book. I wouldn’t walk away satisfied. That feeling grew to a certainty by the time I swiped left again.
After searching for an hour (or more) to find my print copy, I’d given up and purchased the Kindle. After all, Pepper Basham wrote it, so I wouldn’t mind having two copies, right?
Of course, right! (Just embracing my inner Yente there).
Page by page my delight grew, and so did my confidence in my opinion that this would not be a good book. I would not walk away satisfied. Oh, no…
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That Moment You Know You’re Actually Reading a Great Book
Calling Hope Between the Pages “good” would be a travesty. “Like” it? Ha! Adore might fit better.
Seriously… it’s not a feeling I usually get before the end of the very first literal page of a book. I often know I’ll love it right away, but just knowing it will be among my most favorite books ever? Rare… very rare.
Should I be surprised that Pepper Basham did it? Nope. Was I? Not in the least.
This split-time novel follows the stories of two women, great-grandmother and great-granddaughter, and how their parallel lives diverge and reconverge both in the past and in the present. Seriously, this book seriously has all the best elements and settings of a story. It’s as if the author said, “Oh! I like that! Let’s put that in!” And somehow it all works!
Like opulent homes like the Biltmore Estate? Got it. How about books, libraries, and bookstores? Check! Literary quotes seamlessly woven into story? Of course! A spontaneous trip to England? Why not? A brooding, troubled hero? Sure! A strong-willed but kind and generous hero? Absolutely! Vintage clothing… do you get the point? Seriously. Hope Between the Pages book has it all.
And not once does it feel like Pepper Basham just threw everything and the kitchen sink into it and hoped it worked. Nope, every element has its proper and perfect place and reason for occupying that space. The result is a novel you can’t put down and if you tried, your heart would revolt. When my throat went dry, I carried my laptop to the kitchen, still reading as I reached for a glass, nearly broke it, and carried it to the fridge for ice and water. I almost stepped on my dog on the way back to my corner of the couch.
This book is that great.
Let’s talk characters. Oh, all the characters. Clara Blackwell, Sadie Blackwell, Oliver Camden, Max… because Max. Each person is unique–each voice a perfect rendering of that unique person. I felt Sadie’s love for her job, her delight in little Victoria Camden, her respect for her employer, and her devotion to Oliver.
Clara’s personality had just a touch of Basham’s “Jane” in Jane by the Book. I didn’t realize that until this moment. She doesn’t feel like a recycled Jane in the least. Instead, I imagine those two women would either be wonderful friends or very bad for each other–too much enabling. Clara is more whimsical… and when given a good nudge, much more adventuresome. She’s bolder without realizing it inside. Even in her uncertainties, there’s a confidence beneath it, and when you consider her faith, you see where it comes from. You see how she draws the best out of people. A bit like her great-grandmother.
Then there are the men…
Oliver. If his grandmother had been other than she was, Oliver would have felt… well, for lack of a better word, anachronistic. His views of people and situations would have felt out of place in his time and sphere. It would have felt as though he were written through modern sensibilities. But having a grandmother such as he did–the woman who raised both his father and to an extent, himself, it worked. Beautifully.
So when a wealthy Englishman appears at the Biltmore and becomes enchanted with a maid he calls a “book fairy,” it feels real. Right. Destined.
I adored the fully-boy, fully-man that Oliver was. In his jumbled personality, you find that bit of incongruity that exists in all of us. And Sadie brought out the very best in him. As it should be, don’t you think?
But Max… My heart aches for Max. Basham brilliantly sets up a personality that allows for a slow, gradual, and then instant change. It’s as if we see hints that it’s coming, and boom! There it is. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I suspect if I saw any other author attempt the unique growth arc, it would fall flat. It would have to! It frankly doesn’t make sense that it works, but it does. It’s Max.
But best of all (never thought you’d see me say this)… the romance.
Only once before in my life can I recall loving the romance for its own sake. Hope Between the Pages did that for me. It’s real, delightful, beautiful, and immersive. Even the kisses (which aren’t my thing) didn’t have me flipping the pages as fast as possible. In this book, watching two people (four, really) slowly discover that other half of themselves and commit to it… beautiful It’s just beautiful.
Recommended for readers who love to immerse themselves in books and have to be dragged out again. This is one such book. You’ll settle in for “just a few pages” and find yourself emerging hours later, book drunk and full of the hope and love found within those pages. Seriously, it’s Basham’s finest–destined to be a classic in my book.
Hope Between the Pages is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Book: Hope Between the Pages
Author: Pepper Basham
Genre: Christian Historical
Release date: April 2021
Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year-old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
More from Pepper
Books are a uniquely portable magic – Stephen King
Appalachia is known for having a high illiteracy rate. A place of beautiful scenery and rugged landscapes, the people of the mountains developed stories through oral storytelling much more than “book learning”. As a young girl growing up in this world, I loved hearing my granny share tales from up to five generations ago, filling in the narrative gaps between a birth date and a death date on a tombstone – giving flesh and breath to the stone-etched names.
It’s no surprise then, with a heart cultivated from rich oral stories, I fell in love with reading. Books became that “portable magic” that took me places my little Appalachian community couldn’t provide. I fell in love with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. Wept through the end of Bridge to Terabithia and Old Yeller. Traveled to the plains with Sarah Plain and Tall and fell in love with horses with The Black Stallion. But when I was in seventh grade, I read my very first “British” novel, The Secret Garden. In that one introduction, my world expanded into mysterious English manor houses and British classics. Before long, I’d consumed Jane Eyre, Austen’s classics, some Dickens, Dracula, Frankenstein…and the list goes on! And then…I found Tolkien and Lewis – and the ‘real’ world swelled into OTHER worlds.
I’m grateful for true stories of book-loving pioneers traveling into the world of Appalachia to provide books and literacy training to “my people”, because I know some of those books made their way to my tiny elementary school library…and not only brought me the chance to discover stories, but to write them too!
Isn’t it amazing how books can do that?
In Hope Between the Pages, I wanted to bring the same awe and discovery I felt as a child (and continue to feel as an adult reader) to the story of two people whose words had seemed small. Stories stretched their worlds, but the stories also gave them wonderful imaginations and positive perspectives. It’s still amazing to me that ink-and-paper words can make such a lasting impact on hearts and minds. They can lead us to dream, teach us new things, encourage our hearts, help us to think outside the box, swell our imaginations, broaden our horizons, and encourage our hope.
Books are not a replacement for real adventures and relationships, but they certainly provide a beautiful “door” into other lives and worlds that we may never have a chance to experience in real life. Sadie, my historical heroine, and Clara, my contemporary heroine, both have kept close to home but traveled greatly through books…and BOTH are given the opportunity to reach beyond the bindings to discover real-life adventures. I’d like to think that their love for stories helped them have the courage to step away from the page and into their own tales even more prepared than they would have been without stories.
What are some of your favorite books you read as a child? Did any of them influence you to become a more avid reader?
The Avid Reader, April 24
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 24
Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 24
Worthy2Read, April 24
Texas Book-aholic, April 25
Reviewingbooksplusmore, April 25
Christian Bookaholic, April 25
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 25
She Lives To Read, April 26
Books and Everyday Life, April 26
For the Love of Literature, April 26
For Him and My Family, April 26
Wishful Endings, April 27
Bigreadersite, April 27
The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 27
deb’s Book Review, April 27
Inklings and notions, April 28
Connect in Fiction, April 28
Writing from the Heart Land, April 28
Blogging With Carol, April 28
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 29
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 29
Life of Literature, April 29
Pick a good book, April 29
Locks, Hooks and Books, April 30
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, April 30
Betti Mace, April 30
Kathleen’s Blog, April 30
lakesidelivingsite, May 1
Connie’s History Classroom, May 1
Fiction Book Lover, May 1
Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 1
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 2
Godly Book Reviews, May 2
Mary Hake, May 2
Older & Smarter?, May 3
Genesis 5020, May 3
Blossoms and Blessings, May 4
sodbusterLiving, May 4
Splashes of Joy, May 5
Where Faith and Books Meet , May 5
Simple Harvest Reads, May 5 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Through the Fire Blogs, May 5
Pause for Tales, May 6
Remembrancy, May 6
Lights in a Dark World, May 6
Live.Love.Read., May 7
Karen Sue Hadley, May 7
Amanda Tero, blog, May 7
The Write Escape, May 7
To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.