a bench with a view

a bench with a view

Friday, June 29, 2012

Travelers Rest - A Book Review

Travelers Rest by Ann Tatlock is my first review for Bethany House.  Before I do the review, though, I have to say a few words about Bethany House and their excellent customer service and compassion.

I signed up to start doing reviews for them back in November 2011 and shortly before I got shipped my first two books to review, my mother-in-law died.  The books came and I thought I would have a chance to get them read, but then a month later my father-in-law died so it was a very difficult time, plus Christmas, plus son was going to be moving back home at the end of January. I realized the middle part of January that there was no way I was going to get the books read and a review written within Bethany House's suggestions of having it done within 3-4 weeks of getting the books. I emailed them and explained the situation, said I would send the books back.

They responded totally gracious, said they understood. Said to keep the books or give them to someone else who might be interested about them, just not to sell them. I sent the books to Lynda who is a librarian for her church. I was just impressed with how understanding Bethany House was and how compassionate they were. Now months later when things have settled down a bit, I am honored to have a chance to review Travelers Rest from Bethany House.

Now on to the review.

Travelers Rest by Ann Tatlock is her ninth novel, but the first one I have read.  As part of reviewing it for Bethany House and putting a review of it on my blog and a major consumer site, I was provided a free copy of the book.

The story fascinated me when I read a synopsis of it on the Bethany House web site. Jane, one of the three main characters in the book, is engaged to Seth, another main character, who was a carpenter before he went to Iraq to serve his tour of duty. Unfortunately, he doesn't return physically the same way he left for Iraq and has a life altering injury. The story starts with Jane going to visit Seth in the VA hospital he is at shortly after he returns stateside after the injury. She is willing to continue the relationship and plans to get married, but due to the extent of his injuries, he does not want her to feel obligated to do so and basically did not want her to come to see him.

Over the course of the book, she comes to meet other people that are involved at the VA Hospital, including Truman, a veteran who lives at the facility there, who is haunted from an event that happened years ago in the town called Travelers Rest involving the woman he was engaged to and Jon-Paul, a blind lawyer with a talent to play the piano, whose sister works at the VA Hospital, who comes to play the piano at times before he has lunch with his sister.

We come to find the story behind the event that has haunted Truman for so many years and Jane realizes her family has a connection with the family of the woman Truman had been engaged to. Through a series of events, he is finally able to get closure years later. Meanwhile, Jane is still very unsure about what to do with her relationship with Seth and is trying to figure out what to do. She prays, waiting for God to answer it.

On a trip to Travelers Rest, where Jane is taking Truman years later to confront his past, the answer to Jane's dilemma about what to do about Seth is given in a way she did not quite expect. The book ends with an epilogue a few years later that wraps up what happened after that particular situation and ties up all loose ends.

My thoughts. It was a great story, a good plot. Well written and easy to read. The words flowed and it kept my interest. I was so curious to read the last few pages of the book to see how it all ended but resisted doing so, wondering what would happen. It did end a bit predictable.

I have to say though and this is going to be hard to write without giving too much away about the story. An event in one of the last few chapters of the book had me stop and question it. The book does not over talk faith. It is implied that the main characters, especially Seth and Truman, do have a faith and that Jane is still searching for one. There are not lots of scriptures quoted, in fact hardly any. But Jane has a dream one night after she is talking to Truman about love and in that dream they are reenacting a bit of communion like one would do at church with the breaking of bread representing Jesus' body and wine representing his blood. Though I know why that particular chapter was written in regards to the story, it doesn't really tie in completely with anything else in the story and one reading it who does not have a faith or does not know the significance of communion, it would be confusing as it was not clearly written or explained and merely implied. I felt it should have either been left out of the story or gone into more of a detail.

Other than that, I would definitely recommend the book and believe the rest of the story is a plausible one and would make one understand the struggle a couple would have if faced with such a dilemma like they had after Seth's service to our country.


JosephAlsarraf said...

That was nice!

Great review, good book, current with the times, would definitely want to check this one out also! : )

Big Mark 243 said...

Good job with the review! I think that sometimes an author who is writing for an audience who believes in grace is sort of locked in to a predictable ending. So I think that if the journey was enjoyable, then the book did its job!!


It is nice the company was so accomondating during those difficult months you had. The book sounds intriguing.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I think it is great that you have a chance to review some books and read some new books at the same time.

Shelly said...

You always have the best reviews. I enjoyed reading this, and it's also good to know about the wonderful publishing company, as well.

Dana said...

Nice review! The author's name sounds familiar; I think I might have read something by her before. Either way, I'll keep this one in mind.

Bethany House sounds like a wonderful company!

jack69 said...

You do a great review. I know Bethany is proud to have you review.
Yeah, we all agree you had a rough intro. You have been on one rough trip and continuing to work.
You are an amazing lady.
Take care out there on the other coast.

Seriously Though said...

Very nice review. I wish I had time to read a book, so for now blog posts will do! It's nice to hear how Bethany House responded to you. It gives me hope in this world of call center/online customer service we live in. There are real, caring people at the end of the line afterall.

Lynn Proctor said...

how hard to have your mother-in-law and father-in-law pass away in so close together---this book sounds very interesting

Karen Greenberg said...

This sounds really good. I put it on my library wish list.

Tamera Brose said...

I enjoyed the review. It would be hard for me to do and not give away the whole story. You did a wonderful job of telling the story enough to get me interested and still keeping the end a surprise.

Linda said...

Excellent review..I makes me want to read the book! Thank you!

Toriz said...

Great review!

And that was wonderful of them to be so compasionate when you needed it; many people/companies aren't, and it's refreshing to hear of one that is!

Patrick said...

What do you know about the author's experiences with living with a disability? Any real life or just fictional impressions? You can imagine why I find these kind of books curious to say the least. With lines like "she is willing to continue the relationship" come on now I have been a caregiver spouse for a quarter century and "willing to continue" is not in anyone's vocabulary I know.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Martha said...

You really do such great book reviews Betty!

I'm finally here for a little catch up. I agree with the previous post about the bank. I recently had to go in with my son to open a checking account for him now that he's working and direct deposit is mandatory at most places of employment these days. There were a total of 3 people working in the bank - what a difference from the old days!

Have a great week :)

Mevely317 said...

Goosebump alert!!!
About halfway into your review the hairs on the back of my neck were tingling.
Predictable or not, I think this is something I'd enjoy reading .... made more so by your nice words about Bethany House. They sound like an organization that has their priorities in the RIGHT place!

Wishing you a wonderful day,

Ellen said...

Hi! Nice to meet you! I also am a book reviewer for numerous publishers and I'm currently reading Traveler's Rest right now.

Thanks for visiting me at A Season for All Things. I'm your newest follower and look forward to reading more of your posts.

~ Ellen