This split-time novel has the unique distinction of keeping me completely riveted even while I battle lack of sleep. No, really. It does. I don’t know if you can get “jet lag” coming home after a short flight from South Carolina to Ontario, California, but if you can, I’ve got it. After spending three-times the amount of time it usually takes for me to read half as many pages, I finally am giving up. So much for my leisurely book reading tonight.
But this was my first impression of The Lady in Residence.
The book is well-written, intriguing, and with more than one quirky character. I love the character of Dini, and I suspect I’m going to love Sallie. Was it true? Did I? Let’s find out!
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This Split-Time Book Has Me Eager to Read More
In what is a potential stroke of literary genius, Allison Pittman has told a dual-time story that leaves you wondering why it is so believable and so impossible at once. Every bit of it that shouldn’t make sense, feels inauthentic, or has some other “flaw,” actually works perfectly in the setting that the author has put it.
As Pittman says in her Author’s Note, the story has an unreliable narrator. That makes all the difference. Had we been meant to take it all as fact, I’d be singing a different tune. Indeed,The Lady in Residence is a rare example of this literary device in Christian fiction, and I for one loved it.
So where does that leave us? Two fascinating stories woven around one small true crime. Characters who are both loveable and deplorable. I imagine some readers will not like Dini, but oh, boy do I love her. She’s so blessedly real, broken, socially awkward, and eager for a chance to live a “regular” life while being her total self at the same time. In other words, she’s a perfect picture of some part of all of us whether we admit it or not.
Do I have issues with the book at all?
I do. Despite excellent writing, some seriously great characters, a fabulous combination of plots, and the wisdom not to rush the telling, there are problems.
First, while the spiritual content is subtle, it is there. We see a man’s spiritual growth through his admission of past flaws and present focuses. However, one of those past flaws is still a big problem. He completely neglects any focus on Dini’s faith or lack thereof.
Add to that a couple of (in my opinion, anyway) over-the-top sensual scenes that frankly cut to black at the last possible second it seems and yeah. There are problems. Actually, the sensuality level is high regardless. That part was disappointing. Still, they’re skippable.
The Lady in Residence is recommended for lovers of illusion, history, ghost stories (or not!) and split-time novels. Not recommended for those who don’t like to have to skip intimate-leaning scenes and the investigation of paranormal activity.
Book: The Lady in Residence
Author: Allison Pittman
Genre: Christian Historical
Release date: February 2021
Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.
In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?