Book Review: A Time for Everything, by Mysti Parker

I’m reading again! Not that I ever really stopped, but the last year or two I’ve really struggled to pick up actual novels and lose myself in them. Lots of reasons why that could be. But since I’ve been going to the gym regularly (save those two weeks with the flu in my system), I’ve started up on some long-awaited books while on the elliptical. Didn’t get very far with the print, because I couldn’t keep the damned thing open, but I’ve been carrying A Time for Everything around with me for weeks in order to continue with the story. That meant going into another book on my Kindle, which is a little easier to prop up since it’s in my iPhone, so a review of that one will come along when I finish it.

But on to this review . . .

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I received an autographed copy of this moving, well-written romance novel from the author in the late summer, and it’s bothered me a lot that it’s taken me so long to get to it. Heck, I feel guilty about ALL the books I’ve been collecting and putting off reading. So it was great to just dive into it last night and read it through today — more than great, highly satisfying. Here’s what I’ve posted on Goodreads as my collection of thoughts on the book:

Once again, Mysti Parker has spun a tale that I simply could not put down. The details speak to her thorough research of the American Civil War and Reconstruction years in the South, and characters are complex, very human individuals. It puts me in mind of Gone With the Wind not only for the setting, but for the tangled situations the strong-willed, damaged characters Portia, Beau, Harry, Jonny, etc. are experiencing. Parker writes with clarity and heart, refusing to shy away from the relative harshness of life as experienced by war survivors and freed slaves in the mid-19th century for the sake of the romance. The fact that there are characters representing nearly all perspectives and elements of the 1860s Southern economy — negative and positive — again reveals the careful thought and reflection put into this book. Coupled with a well-developed plot that brought tears to my eyes as often as it made me laugh or shout in triumph on behalf of the protagonists, A Time for Everything is a highly satisfying read.

When I was a teenager, I was privileged to be able to visit Gettysburg as part of a field trip put together by my school’s History and Humanities department — I think it was actually built into the American History course I was taking at the time. I’d been fascinated by the American Civil War ever since picking up my copy of GWTW while on a visit to my grandmother Helen. It was an entirely different world, almost alien to my experiences at the time and even now, and yet there are still so many ways that we in the present can connect with the events and trials of the past. Antebellum, conflict, and Reconstruction — all left a mark on our neighbours to the south that continues to affect them today. I think we can understand much of American culture through well-researched, focused fiction like A Time for Everything as much as through studying primary source documents. And indeed, we should, because historical fiction represents the struggle of modern minds to understand the people past, place them and their decisions in context, and apply the learnings to the present and the future.

And now, I’m going to issue a challenge to you, Mysti Parker! Would you be able to apply your skills of interpretation and research to the American Revolution to craft another novel such as this?

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