Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: August 15, 2023
Two sisters. One mystery. A family changed forever.
At the turn of the twentieth century, sisters Emmy and Callie Bullock are living a privileged life when their well-ordered Alabama household gets turned upside down by the arrival of Lily McGee. Arrestingly beautiful, Lily quickly--and innocently--draws the wrong kind of attention.
After Lily has a baby, Callie witnesses something she was never meant to see--or did she? Her memory is a haze, just an image in her mind of Emmy standing on a darkened riverbank and cradling Lily's baby girl. Only when the sisters are separated does the truth slowly come to light--including a revelation that will shape the rest of Callie's life.
Reviewer: Juanita Varela
Wow! Just wow! This is my first novel by Valerie Fraser Luesse. From the first chapter, you are left with so much mystery that it is nearly impossible to put down. I found myself wanting to know what happened next.
The sister bond was nice to see. I like when siblings have a close relationship with each other.
The only part that I did not like were the letters. I thought it was going to be more and have such a significant impact. Even though the secret was revealed through the letters, I felt like the title had me expecting a bigger thing. But don’t get me wrong, this was still a good book.
Callie and Solomon’s relationship starts off with a meeting in the fields, which at first I thought was not good, but it was far from the truth. Solomon is a good character who falls in love with Callie. I enjoyed seeing their romance blossom.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Amy Smelser
For some reason, when I first started reading this book, I thought it was going to be more about the letters. It was not. It was about two sisters, Emmy and Callie, their family, and the family that served them for years. Taking place in Alabama in the early 1900s, we see how fiercely protective these two families are of one another.
Callie is a young woman who is adventurous and doesn't let the rigid rules set by her mother slow her down. This story is told through Callie's eyes, but the rest of the characters are well-fleshed out, and we get to know them too. This story pulled me into this tightly-knit group of people just farming and living life, falling in love, and dreaming of a better future for all.
Then, all of a sudden, something happens. And the story changes into a mystery that seems to alter everything. However, after I closed the last page, I began to think that what happened in the first chapter was what really changed everything for this family.
This story pulled me into its atmosphere of love, mystery, and a little bit of the spiritual and wouldn't let me go. I have been pondering it since. It is bittersweet as it deals with tragedies I was not expecting. In fact, I feel I was just as shocked and grieved as the characters when certain things happened. Author Luesse really knows how to pull the reader into her stories, and she does well in getting us to know all her characters.
I was provided a copy of this novel from Revell Publishing through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to post a positive review, and all views and opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Tammy Lundsford
This book was an emotional landmine full of grief, pain, suffering, mental illness and homelessness, just to name a few. However, it was also rich with hope for a brighter tomorrow, healing, learning to trust, courage and compassion.
Beckett Walsh is a beekeeper working in her father's apiary alongside him on a daily basis. When he dies suddenly, her world is turned upside down. She is at a complete loss. Her only solace is with the bees she and her father so lovingly raise. Bees do not ask anything from her except a little care. They will do the rest. Her world is shattered further when she finds out her father left a trust naming her and a complete stranger, Callie Peterson, as co-owners of the farm. Shaken up is not even a good way to describe what this does to an already fragile Beckett.
As both of these ladies try to make sense of her father's actions, they unravel a mystery with many puzzle pieces. They need each other, but they do not realize this need just yet. I found myself almost in tears at different points in this book as I saw a brokenhearted. fragile little girl trapped in a woman's body in Beckett, but I also saw a courageous, strong woman who would do anything to defend her home. Callie was just as innocent in this plan, but Beckett does not trust her. Callie is a compassionate young woman who truly cares for her mother.
The rich characters were created to tug on your heart and maybe to allow a reader to feel their pain because they have felt similar pain. You will fall in love with a little sassy girl named Fern who will capture your heart from her first appearance in the story. It was a journey through real life with characters with real life issues. The information that was provided about the honeybees was also very interesting to read. This book is a treasure trove of moral lessons that we all could learn something from.
Thank you to Revell Fiction for a copy of this book through Interviews and Reviews. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Reviewer: Emily Stephens
This is an excellent historical fiction novel! It tells the story of two sisters, Callie and Emmy, in the early 1900s in Alabama. I enjoyed reading about the relationship between the two sisters. Although very different, they obviously cared about each other deeply. I liked seeing how the relationship evolved as they got older. Due to an injury, they are separated, and that's where the letters from the title come in. I enjoyed the added perspective provided through the letters, and just wish there had been more of them.
The author included plenty of details about the time period, which I found fascinating. Smoothly woven into the story were facts about social norms, fashion, gender and racial roles and divides, and daily life. I always like learning something while enjoying a good story!
There is also a bit of a mystery element to the novel, which I enjoyed as a side plot to the main action.
While both sisters were interesting and given good storylines, I found myself more invested in Callie. She wasn't sure she wanted to follow the traditional path (get married, have children), and I liked watching her finally figure out what really made her happy.
I received a review copy courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Adriann Harris
I loved the progression and pacing of Letters from My Sister by Valerie Fraser Luesse. From the very beginning, I was drawn into Callie and Emmy’s story, told from Callie’s POV.
This is an endearing southern post civil war coming-of-age story of the relationship between the Bullock sisters, Callie and Emmy. The author filled the pages with heartfelt emotion that draws one into the story from the beginning to the end. Her world-building and character development are superb, making her one of my favorite authors to read. I loved the mysterious event that unveiled itself slowly throughout the telling of this captivating story.
Valerie Fraser Luesse , with her unique prose, gives her readers another outstanding story that is a perfect balance of family, faith, romance, and mystery. I highly recommend not only this book but also the author herself!
I requested and received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell via NetGalley through Interviews & Reviews. I am under no obligation to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
A stunning story that takes place in Alabama in the early 1900s. The author tells s compelling story of a close-knit, hardworking family who are God-fearing and live out their Christian Faith. Dialogue steeped in Southern Charm brought a smile to my face, and the poignant tale brought tears to my eyes.
It was a story of the South being pulled from the bigotry of the past into a form of equality of the future. Difficult to say the least. Christian values were used to explain and temper strange happenings, such as seeing visions.
This was an absorbing story of sisters Emmy and Callie and their loves, Knox and Solomon. True Southern ladies wooed by true gentlemen. Solomon was a favorite character. His steadfastness, work ethic, and humor shone through.
While not a typical happy ending, this story was filled with mystery, intrigue, and a few sad points that showed life’s ebb and flow. I am always in awe when my favorite scripture, Romans 8:38–39, is shared by the main character. That was a welcome bonus and encouragement. I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful book.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Anna Bottoms
Letters From My Sister is a snapshot of life in the south at the beginning of the 1900s seen from the perspective of Callie, the youngest daughter of the Bullock family.
Callie, unlike her sister, doesn’t always feel like she fits, preferring the outdoors and forgoing the societal norms of the day. She prefers to be an observer rather than a participant, but life is bursting through her veins waiting to be let out.
Solomon is new to the area, determined to make his newly purchased farm a success. He doesn’t quite know what to make of the close knit Bullock family. He’s been alone for a long time but immediately finds a kindred spirit in Callie. He accepts her for who she is, even those things she sees as flaws in herself.
The story depicts an unusually close relationship between the Bullock family and Hepsy’s family, descended from slaves. Though the families care for one another the author is honest in her descriptions, for instance a decision is made by the matriarch of the Bullock family concerning Hepsy’s granddaughter Lily without asking her opinion or consent. It is for her safety but gives us a glimpse into the mindset of the day.
I loved the progression and pacing of the book. From the very beginning I was pulled into Callie’s life, drawing on her emotions, and journeying with her through her story. There was a perfect balance of family, romance, faith, and a bit of mystery. I highly recommend this book.
I was given a copy through NetGalley, courtesy of Revell. This is my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
"Hepsy would say this was one of those nights 'when you got to do like Paul in the Bible- drop your anchors and pray for daylight'."
"Callie would be praying that prayer." Her comfortable, predictable life had just taken a more dramatic turn. Trouble had been unleashed in the form of a man with unbridled passions and a noticeable lack of conscience. Fortunately, Callie and her sister Emmy managed to rescue a young woman from his clutches, but it wasn't the first time and surely wouldn't be the last. In fact, what happened on Bullock property one fateful evening would leave one sister with a severe injury and the other with secrets best left untold.
Separated due to less-than-ideal circumstances, it would require letters between the two to eventually reveal the truth of the matter.
A lovely example of Southern fiction exploring the sweet coming of age relationship between two sisters with totally different personalities and inclinations, yet sharing the same fierce love for everyone they considered family. It's not without weaknesses. The characters could have shown a little more depth by sharing a great number of quality conversations or, as the title suggests, more than a few letters. Overall though, a very pleasant, thought provoking story.
I received a copy of this book from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. The opinions stated are entirely my own.
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