Monday, April 4, 2016
I love Josi Kilpack's books, from her cozy mysteries to her Proper Romance novels, but her newest book, Forever and Forever (The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton) really caught my eye. As an English major, I read a lot of Longfellow's work, but didn't know much about his life beyond his bio. This novel is based on his real-life journey to love with Fanny and it was incredibly well-written.
It opens with the Appleton family on a Grand Tour through Europe. Their cousin has become ill, however, and they are doing what they can taking things slow and making sure he is well enough to continue on to the next destination. Henry is also on a European tour doing research, but isn't exactly joining into the social scene. The Appleton family invites him into their little circle and his first interactions with Fanny were so awkward! I thought the author did a fantastic job in really letting the reader experience the emotions right along with Henry and Fanny from their first meeting to the last page of the book.
The journey is long and twisty, physically as well as romantically, as they take a lot of side detours. There were so many scenes that were heartwrenchingly sad, yet balanced with breathtakingly happy. I could totally see the issues from both sides, and there were times when you just want to shake both Henry and Fanny! The setting transported me back to that era and was easy to imagine. I loved the glimpses of Europe during that time period and wish I could have seen some of these locations as Fanny and Henry saw them. I think this is one of Ms. Kilpack's best works, well-researched and beautifully presented in a story that will satisfy every reader who loves historical fiction.
Here's the back copy:
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?
You can get your copy here