January 26, 2022
Genre/Categories/Setting: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Marriage, Family Life, Career, Northeast U.S.
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Thanks @WildRosePress and @KGuzman_author for a complimentary electronic copy of #ArborView for my review consideration. All opinions are my own. Thanks for the opportunity Karen! I’m thrilled that your book “found” me!
Dream big…how big is too big?
Arborview is the quietly compelling story of two courageous and determined women: one starting over at midlife and one just starting out in life with one big dream. It’s a hope-filled story of connection, reflection, chasing dreams, friendship, and women helping women.
If you can imagine yourself climbing up to a rustic treehouse for peace, reflection, and making life decisions this is a perfect read for you!
Few things said “You are precious” better than cocoa chiffon cake and raspberries!
Characters: Ellen and Rosa are two likable and realistic characters who have one thing in common: a big risky dream. Ellen is in her early 50s and reeling from an unexpected divorce and the resulting financial consequences. How can she pick up the pieces of her life? Will she lose her beloved home? Rosa is a college student with a culinary dream. With no support from her mother and limited fianancial resources, is her dream realistic or achievable? Ellen and Rosa meet in a pastry class where Ellen is teaching adjunct to bring in some extra money while she contemplates her future. Each woman will appreciate the support of the other as they face challenges and obstacles and betrayal by those closest to them. I noticed that although Ellen and Rosa were of different generations and ethnic backgrounds, they formed a strong bond as they grew to depend on each other.
Ellen’s dream of her own pastry/coffee shop called WE RISE:
“We Rise makes you believe…if only for the fifteen minutes you can spare on a coffee break…that you do not struggle through the world alone, or in vain, that solace and connection, along with a big dash of sweetness, can be yours if you know where to look.”
Writing: Right from the first page, I loved the beautiful writing and strong sense of place. I felt connected to Ellen and Rosa and could relate to their challenges and dreams. Arborview is largely character-driven with just enough plot to propel the story. I loved that the story felt realistic all the way through. Some readers might like to know that there is no profanity or open door romance.
Thoughtful themes: If you follow my reviews, you know that I fall hard for relatable, poignant themes. In Arborview, I love the themes of starting over, second chances, loss, following a big dream, taking risks, women supporting women, mentorship, finding your voice, finding the source of your strength, hope, and multgenerational friendship. In addition, I appreciate the gentle inclusion of Scripture and spiritual reflection that was very much character driven and not heavy handed author viewpoints. Because I’m a spiritual person, I was delighted and surprised to see the inclusion of spiritual thoughts presented in an easy, natural, and positive way.
“Mercy could mediate. Redemption arrives, sooner or later, if you let it. The old nuns would have agreed, and Ellen…even now…couldn’t deny it. This inkling of something better was within her, whether she wanted it or not. She felt its presence, its certainty, wedged behind her heart. It was the real story. It lifted her, spoke her name. It had always been there. She had just stopped listening.”
“In her brother’s eyes she saw regret. A sad submerged strain. It must be contagious at their age. No one was spared. It’s a grim job, taking control of your life. There are those who will not understand, those who will not be able to hear over the ghosts in their own heads. Hearts will be broken. Maybe your own. There is always a price to pay.”
“Mama doesn’t see anything. She doesn’t believe in anything. She doesn’t hope. She acts like there’s nothing we can really do to change things. It’s keep your head down and scrape by, especially if you’re a girl.”
Recommended: Because of the beautiful writing and an enjoyable and quietly compelling reading experience, I’m highly recomending Arborview for readers who enjoy the above themes and appreciate a well-told and heartfelt story; for fans of women’s fiction with substantial themes; and for bookclubs who will find thoughtful discussion possibilities. I’m definitely eager to read more by Karen Guzman.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)
Meet the Author, Karen Guzman
Karen Guzman is a fiction writer and essayist. Her novel, “Arborview,”will be published in 2021 by The Wild Rose Press. Her debut novel, “Homing Instincts,” was published by Fiction Attic Press. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, and she is a contributor to the Collegeville Institute’s Bearings Online magazine.
Is Arborvew on your TBR or have you read it?
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