18. An Unexpected Family by Joan Mendlicott (2007)
Widow Amelia Declose had always believed that she and her late husband had had a wonderful marriage. After all, Thomas Declose was a wonderful man – an honorable man who loved his wife deeply – and Amelia always portrayed her marriage to be one that was as close to perfection as she could ever have hoped to come. The couple had lived in Paris and entertained for a glittering crowd; only the tragic loss of their only child – a nine-year-old daughter, Caroline – marred what appeared to otherwise be an idyllic existence.
However, Amelia’s world is rocked to its foundations when Miriam Smith arrives with her daughter Sadie on Amelia’s doorstep in the midst of a snowstorm. While Amelia feels sympathy for the young woman’s desperate situation, she is less empathetic towards Miriam’s outrageous story. After hearing Miriam’s claim that she is, in fact, the illegitimate child of the long-deceased Thomas, Amelia reacts with shock and fury. Could Thomas possibly have been living a secret life that he hid from her – a life that would have made their marriage vows a lie?
Rebuffing the wise counsel of her housemates, Grace and Hannah, Amelia dismisses the possibility of having a family of her own and buries herself in the pain of Thomas’ betrayal and her own humiliation. Little Sadie is the spitting image of Amelia’s own lost daughter, though, and she cannot help but take both mother and child into her heart. But it seems that danger stalks Miriam, and it looks as if Amelia may lose this new family as well. When Mother’s Day arrives, will Amelia be left with empty arms…or will her deepest longings finally be fulfilled?
First of all, let me say that I really did enjoy reading this book. The story was actually really easy reading for me – truly a likable, easygoing, ‘feel good about humanity’ story. Truthfully, and I don’t necessarily mean this as a criticism of Ms. Mendlicott’s writing style – but I sort of felt like I was reading a ‘Hallmark Moments’ plot. I would give this book a definite A!
A! – (90-95%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight