Romancing History

Tag: Bethany House Pubishers

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy & a Giveaway

About the Book


Title: Every Word Unsaid
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Kimberly Duffy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Info: Bethany House Publisher/November 3, 2021/358 pages


Blurb

Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family’s constant disappointment. As the nation’s most fearless–and reviled–columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape.

Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel’s sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she’s long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her.

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My Thoughts

Every Word Unsaid is another excellent novel by Kimberly Duffy. The story gripped me from the opening scene with vivid descriptions and luxurious prose and never let me go. Page after page, Duffy brings the setting to life from dusty Deadwood, South Dakota, to the plague-ridden streets of Pune, India. Skeptical? Try this snippet and tell me it doesn’t make you want to read this book.

“America, with its youthful zeal and brazen thirst, whispered a sonnet to Gussie’s heart. But India sang, her voice a thunderous roar, to the percussion of drums. It reached inside her and wrestled with the accusations that had chased her across the ocean.”

The heroine, Augusta (Gussie) Travers, wants to shrug off the restraints of New York society and be a travel photographer. Her family indulges her temporarily, hoping the urge will pass, if she keeps her identity secret. When she is outed to New York Society on her sister’s wedding day, the ensuing scandal sends her to India, far away from the gossip but not from the unkind and often cruel words that her family have spoken over her which plague Gussie’s memory. In India, she reconnects with her childhood friends, Catherine and Gabriel. I loved Gabriel. I loved that their romance was a slow, steady burn built on a solid foundation of friendship. The romance is there but not as integral to the story as this romance lover would have preferred. If I must find fault with Every Word Unsaid, it would be that I would have enjoyed scenes from Gabriel’s point of view. His unconditional love and acceptance are integral to Gussie’s journey of self-acceptance.

I admired Gussie’s spunk and determination to follow her dreams. She is a strong yet complicated heroine who is not only independent but also shackled to the discouraging words spoken over her by her family who wish her to conform to their expectations. These words cause her to doubt her talent and Gussie struggles to believe she can use the gift God has given her to its fullest potential. When Gussie arrives in India, she has the opportunity not only to show the beauty of an exotic land through her Kodak lens, but her images can show simplicity, pain, sorrow, compassion, strength, poverty, disease, suffering, and resilience. It can transport people to another time and place where they can learn to think about the world beyond themselves not simply admire its beautiful landscapes. Through it all, Gussie learns God has given her a unique talent and an audience whereby she can make a difference by sharing the honesty of the human experience—both good and bad.

Some of the reviews I read for Every Word Unsaid seemed to think the heroine too selfish, and her catharsis too minimal. I would have to politely disagree. First, I like flawed characters. They seem realistic and relatable and look whole lot more like myself and those around me. These are the characters and stories that bid me to look deeper inside myself, to examine my own heart. and in the end, strengthen my faith. Second, while the heroine undoubtedly made some selfish decisions throughout the story, Gussie grew and changed emotionally and spiritually. God used the people she met and the experiences she had in India to widen her perspective, to soften her heart. She learns compassion and understanding. Isn’t that all we can ask of others, of ourselves—that we learn, grow, and change for the better by the end of our own stories?

I cannot end this review without a mention of the strong cast of secondary characters Duffy brings to the page. From the endearing Uncle James, who I kept hoping would choose to stay with Gussie in India, to her mentors Bimla and Ramabai—each brought life and depth to the story. They seemed to innately understand her emotional wounds while gently challenging Gussie to step from the shadows into the woman God had created her to be.

Five enthusiastic stars to Every Word Unsaid!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Pulishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“Stop running from the things God has called you to because you’re afraid of what other’s will think.” ~Ramabai

“Don’t let what people say define you.” ~Uncle James

“There is beauty in loving those who cannot love you back . . . No one chooses not to love. Their own scars, their own brokenness, prevents them from sharing what God has given so freely.” ~Bimla

And from the Dedication page, “A life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret.” ~Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati


Spiritual Takeaway

Gussie is a deeply wounded character. She takes with her the scars and brokenness of “never being enough” for the people in her life, especially her family (with the sole exception of Uncle James). I could relate to Gussie who struggled to get unkind words spoken to her out of her head. Words have the power to lift us up or tear us down, and the most dangerous ones are the ones we repeat in our own mind every day. As the story unfolds, Gussie learns to cast off her emotional wounds and not allow the hurtful words from her past define her. As her friend and mentor, Bimla, tells her, “Nothing anyone else says or believes of me can diminish my value—that my worth is found in Christ and He is meant for everyone, even those who mistreated me.” Every Word Unsaid brings a powerful reminder that we have eternal value not because of what we do or say, or because other’s have a favorable opinion of us, but because Christ purchased us with his shed blood on the cross. That is what completes, what makes us ‘enough.’


About the Author

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes readers back in time and across oceans. Her books feature ahead-of-their-time heroines, evocative settings, and real-life faith. Kimberly loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of 20 years. He doesn’t mind.

You can find Kimberly at:

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Giveaway**

I’m giving away an eBook copy of Every Word Unsaid. To enter tell me your thoughts about flawed characters—like ’em or hate ’em? Do you like to read more light-hearted fare?

**Giveaway ends midnight, Wednesday, December 1st, 2021.

Book Review, A Tapestry of Light and a Giveaway!

About the Book


Title: A Tapestry of Light
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Kimberly Duffy
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Info: Bethany House Publishers, March 16, 2021, 433 pages 


Blurb

In 1886 Calcutta, Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon the skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger named Everett Scott appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in a cold, foreign land.

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My Thoughts

What. A. Book!

I was completely enchanted by A Tapestry of Light. Duffy does an excellent job bringing the sights and sounds of colonial India to life. Through crowded streets, lush gardens, and the scent of Indian spices, I was transported to another world. Beautifully woven with a sprinkle of Hindi words and customs, we see 19th century India through, Duffy’s heroine, Ottilie Russell, a young woman of Eurasian (Indian & British) descent.

Ottilie is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. As her story begins, she is swept up in a tragedy that brings the vivid memories of losing her father and two sisters to cholera years earlier. Ottilie relies on her talent to embroider with iridescent beetle wings to support her family. Apparently this was a fashion craze in the 1800s and I’d never heard of it, so I looked it up. As you can see, It’s just lovely. I’ve had no idea those were the casings for beetle wings, would you?

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Ottlie is guarded and fiercely protective of her only two remaining family members, her younger brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother. While this may shy some readers away, I urge you to read on. Who hasn’t suffered in this world? Who hasn’t wondered where God is when the circumstances of their life overwhelm them? If our faith is so fragile that we cannot voice our doubts in our grief or despair and come out stronger on the other side, like Ottilie, I would question how strong it was in the first place.

Just like in her debut, A Mosaic of Wings, Duffy has once again created characters that leapt off the page into my heart. The story is told through Ottilie’s perspective, yet the entire cast of secondary characters were well thought out and developed. They were my friends and I was sorry to part with them when the story ended. Even the antagonists recognized their flawed thinking and seek forgiveness by novel’s end. But it was Everett Scott, Ottilie’s friend and eventual romantic interest, that took my heart by storm. Everett is a kind, honorable man, with a strong faith, who never looks down on Ottilie because she is of Eurasian heritage. As feelings grow between them, Everett is torn between the woman he loves and the responsibility he feels to carry on his father’s business and make him proud, thus redeeming himself from the sordid details of his own ancestry. But in order to do that, he needs a proper British wife, the kind that can open the right doors for him. Despite the fact I  wanted to shake him at times for putting societal expectations above his growing feelings for Ottilie, Everett is one of my favorite heroes of the year. This flaw only made him more realistic, not only as a man of his era, but as a human being who needed to grow and be stretched. Seeing Everett open his heart to God, to allow God to prune him, and him being willing to let go of what he thought he’d always wanted, made Everett’s journey all the more satisfying.

And Duffy doesn’t shy away from tough topics like prejudice and racism. As a white woman living in one of America’s most affluent counties, I really appreciated the opportunity to see the world through Ottilie’s eyes. Although both her and her brother are Eurasian, Duffy shows the disparity between the way people treated her because she looked Indian where as Thaddeus looked British (white). She never felt fully accepted by either culture in India, but when she arrived in Britain, she felt alone and alienated in her own home, while her brother was touted as the next heir of Hazelbrook Manor. Her search for belonging, to be accepted for who she was, not what she appeared to be, is a theme I find especially relevant for today’s historical fiction reader.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“You must look deeper beneath what a person shows. There is always a story. Things are never what they seem.”

“…since I arrived in London, I’ve learned family is made up of more than those related by blood. And before I left India, Dilip told me that home was never supposed to be a place. It is the people.”

“You’re not anything like I imagined, but so much more than I’d hoped for.”

“People will always see what’s easiest to understand.”


About the Author

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. Her first novel was the highly acclaimed A Mosaic of Wings. You can find Kimberly at www.kimberlyduffy.com.

 


    Giveaway*

**This giveaway is now closed.**

Congratulations to our winner, Megan!

I’ll be giving away one paperback copy of A Tapestry of Light to one lucky Romancing History winner. To enter, let’s chat about exotic settings in novels. I must admit that India wasn’t high on my list of places to travel but now I really want to visit this country that Duffy has brought to life in her first two books. What book has made you want to travel to another city or country? Why?

**Giveaway ends midnight, Thursday, April 15th, 2021

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