Monday, June 5, 2017

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is one of my favorite authors, and I appreciate the style of her latest novels. So I was glad to have the opportunity to read this book for review.

Let’s begin with the summary:

From the New York Times best-selling author of  The Wedding Dress comes a new captivating novel of secrets, romance, and two women bound together across time by a shared dream.

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway best seller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

And now, my review:

As I mentioned, Rachel’s style is unique and enjoyable.

First off, the modern-day storyline follows a writer. That’s a fun perspective! (As a writer, I love reading about other writers, even fictional ones.) Because I’m friends with Rachel, it’s always fun for me to search her novels for folks I know. She’s included people from her worship team, etc. This time, though she changed his name, she included her literary agent, Chip MacGregor as Charlie McGuire. It was fun to see her fictionalize his role in her writing career, in meetings, etc. I found it to be a respectful and interesting hat tip.

Like her more recent books, she takes readers back and forth in time, developing two stories simultaneously. And she does a fantastic job. I loved watching both romances play out.

Our heroine is a mess. She doubts her competence. She’s finding that lightning may not strike twice. Through her first book went to the NYT best-seller list (was that a fluke, given her family line?) doesn’t mean she can whip up another best seller just because she’s on deadline. Because she has so many doubts, she goes into sort of a hibernation mode, dressing in a bathrobe and even going out in public dressed like that. For several chapters I wondered if she’d ever change, or even shower. The perfect symbolism, and an unusual quirk that kept me reading.

One of the themes with all the lovable characters was identity. The story centers around a desk, which is a tie between the past and present and contains its own symbolism for our present-day heroine.

As a writer, I loved that the present-day characters’ nicknames for each other were the why-nots of the story, at least in part. Brava, Rachel!

In my opinion, this is Rachel’s strongest book to date. I loved it, and I highly recommend it!

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