The Memory House by Linda Goodnight
Release Date - March 31, 2015
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
In the quiet town of Honey Ridge, Julia Presley attempts to get on with her life. She throws herself into her bustling bed and breakfast - Peach Orchard Inn - and tries to ignore the memories of her son. Eight-year-old Mikey vanished without a trace six years ago.
Eli Donovan served his time in jail, but he's still haunted by his childhood. Now that he's out, finding a job is tough, but it's critical now that he's learned the mother of his son is dead. Eli is tossed into fatherhood in a hurry with a son, Alex, who doesn't know him. He finds himself at Peach Orchard Inn, accepting free room and board for himself and Alex in exchange for his work fixing up the place.
Julia and Eli soon come to rely on one another. Along the way, they discover a series of letters written by a former owner of the home, a woman who faced her own trials back during the Civil War. It's through her letters that they start to understand love and forgiveness.
The Memory House moves back and forth between the Civil War era and today. Readers learn about Charlotte Reed Portland, her son Benjamin, her often cruel husband Edgar, and the slaves they own. Charlotte's life changes drastically when Captain William Gadsen shows up at her farm and commandeers their house to turn it into a temporary hospital for wounded Union soldiers. Her bond service helping treat the "enemy" puts a real strain on her already strained relationship with her husband.
As Charlotte's story plays out, readers learn more about Eli and Julia. Eli is more secretive and his past is revealed slowly throughout the novel, as does his relationship with both his son and Julia. The big link to the modern time and the past is the appearance of antique marbles that start showing up in Julia's inn. This is where there's a bit of ghostly play that helps some characters in the book with their healing process. This touch of paranormal isn't a main focus in the story, but it's there.
I liked the switch between past and present. Both times kept me intrigued in the story and wanting to know what happened next. Without going into detail, there is one aspect that I wish had gotten more focus, but at the same time, I understand why it wasn't a major part of the plot. I'm pretty sure this is the first in a series, however, so maybe it will show up and be further discussed in future books.