Book Review: Taking Heart by Rowena Summers

A tribute to family ties, Rowena Summer’s Taking Heart is being re-released this week by Agora Books. It was originally published in 2000. Set in the time between two world wars, it’s a bit of a coming of age story in that we see the Caldwell children on the brink of adulthood, dealing with very adult issues, set on the verge of WWII. It’s touted as “sweeping historical fiction that puts one family’s strength to the
test through illness, war and heartbreak.”

From the publisher:
The Caldwell family’s life is turned upside down when their father announces that the family business, Caldwell Supplies, has been bought out by Preston’s Emporium. With an ailing mother and a young brother to care for, Imogen and her sisters must find a way to save their childhood home and remain in Bristol.

But when a terrible tragedy tears the family apart, the Caldwell girls must forge their own
paths in life. And with the second world war looming over England, their lives begin to change more drastically than they could have imagined. Through love and heartbreak, fear and loss, can the Caldwell girls make it out unscathed? Or will they be swept up in the chaos of the changing times?

My thoughts on this novel are positive. While it took a few chapters to appreciate the family and grow somewhat invested in their plight, by the final page I was eager to start the next title in the series. (Taking Heart is the first title in The Caldwell Girl Series.) I believe the author did a wonderful job of allowing her characters to grow, giving them depth. She included some despicability as well for balance. As it was historical fiction, it ticked that box for me as well and Ms. Summers gracefully projected the fears and at times, ignorance, that would have been felt by young girls in that day. Often while reading the book, I thought of my grandmother who would have been close in age to the eldest daughter – and would have gone through many of the same life experiences.

Rowena Summers
Author Extraordinaire

Rowena Summers is a pseudonym for British writer of romance novels, Jean Saunders. Ms. Saunders was a prolific writer – her list of collective works is impressive in a number of different genres! Rowena Summers was the pseudonym she chose for her historical romances.

Overall, I found Taking Heart to be an entertaining escape to another place and era – a good balance of family, romance, and drama. My thanks to Agora Books for sharing this title with me. One, it was lovely to pick up a real printed piece of literature again and two, it was a well-written piece of historical fiction, something this publisher does well! Watch for this title to hit shelves this Thursday!

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