Monday, November 21, 2022

Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham


Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham

I’ve enjoyed epistolary novels in the past. They’re challenging to write because we don’t see the actions as they happen. Without narration readers may get a little confused. They require more concentration, in some ways.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Dear Reader, My name is Isabelle Louisa Edgewood—Izzy, for short. I live by blue-tinted mountains, where I find contentment in fresh air and books. Oh, and coffee and tea, of course. And occasionally in being accosted by the love of my family. (You’ll understand my verb choice in the phrase later.) I dream of opening my own bookstore, but my life, particularly my romantic history, has not been the stuff of fairy tales. Which is probably why my pregnant, misled, matchmaking cousin—who, really, is more like my sister—signed me up for an online dating community.

The trouble is . . . it worked. I’ve met my book-quoting Mr. Right, and our correspondence has been almost too good to be true. But Brodie lives across an ocean. And just the other day, a perfectly nice author and professor named Eli came into the library where I work and asked me out for a coffee. I feel a rom-com movie with a foreboding disaster nipping at my heels.

But I’ve played it safe for a long time. Maybe it’s time for me to be as brave as my favorite literary heroines. Maybe it’s time to take the adventures from the page to real life. Wish me luck.


And now, my review:

I liked the characters, quirks and all. I really enjoyed the sibling dynamic. The author lost her brother before this novel was published, and my heart went out to her as I read her character “Luke’s” dialogue and saw his personality very clearly on the page through his words. I like to think this was a tribute from the author to her brother, and if it was, brava, my friend. Beautiful.

This story centers around books, with multiple literary references. It’s fun watching the heroine and hero relate via online chats. Relatable, in this era to meet someone online and “date” them though the characters live continents apart. Well-read bookworms will relish the references and delight in the subtext.

Fittingly, one of the themes was authenticity. Communicating online gives Izzy license to be real, which is refreshing. At times I could hear Pepper (a fellow ACFW member) defend Christian fiction through the characters’ words. Jesus used parables—stories—to touch hearts. Loved this aspect.

Given it’s epistolary format, readers may struggle to recall who’s who if they step away from this novel for any length of time.

This novel will especially appeal to readers who might enjoy a less formulaic romance.