Posts Tagged ‘Lawana Blackwell’

Several years ago, I was browsing the “Christian fiction” shelves at my local Books-A-Million, and I picked up a book that looked promising. It was The Widow of Larkspur Inn by Lawana Blackwell, and it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite novels. I ended up buying the other two books in the series (The Courtship of the Vicar’s Daughter and The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark) and I loved them as well.

I have loaned these books out many times–so many times that I’ve lost track of who had them and I’ve had to buy new copies. Everyone I’ve ever loaned them to has loved them too. I’ve since sought out and read most of Lawana Blackwell’s other books, and I’ve enjoyed them all. But in my opinion, her Gresham books are her best work. The world she’s created for these books–the small Dairying town of Gresham, feels like a real place to me.

And now, after many requests from her readers, Ms. Blackwell has treated us to another Gresham book, The Jewel of Gresham Green. It does not disappoint. Lawana Blackwell’s greatest strength is creating lovable and lifelike characters, and this book is no exception. It was so much fun to revisit Julia and Vicar Phelps and their families. The thing I like the most about Ms. Blackwell’s characters is that they always inspire me to be a better version of myself.

In this story we meet Jewel Libby, a lovely young widow living in Birmingham, England with her daughter, Becky. While Jewel works long hours, she fears for her daughter’s safety. Mr. Dunstan, the rent collector, has taken an unhealthy interest in four-year-old Becky, and Jewel must make some difficult decisions to escape him.

As a writer, one of the most enjoyable parts of this book was reading about Adela. Readers first met her in The Widow of Larkspur Inn, as the young daughter of widow Julia Hollis. Now she has grown into an independent woman—and a writer. Adela struggles to find the privacy to write and fears rejection of her work—things that most writers can identify with. I’m sure that Ms. Blackwell had fun drawing on her own experiences as a writer to create this adult version of Adela.

The Jewel of Gresham Green is most enjoyable for the chance it offers to revisit beloved characters in a beloved setting. I can’t blame Ms. Blackwell for wanting to add to this series. As a stand-alone novel, however, I think it would be more difficult to fully appreciate. I strongly recommend reading the earlier books from the Gresham Chronicles before reading this one.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


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