In Tamara Alexander’s latest novel we meet Eleanor Braddock who is dealing with some major life decisions. Having lost her mother to sickness and her brother in the Civil War, she is now dealing with her father’s dementia. Not a lot was known about the disease in those days, so with the help from her very wealthy Aunt Adelicia Acklen Cheatham she is able to send her father to an asylum with the hopes of him getting better. Eleanor, who is 29 and considered an old maid, had previously helped the doctors and nurses during the Civil War and saw many men die of their wounds, leaving their wives and children in dire circumstances. Determined not to be a burden to her Aunt and her household, Eleanor comes to Nashville, Tennessee with a desire to open a café. She just has to convince her Aunt to let her do this. Working in her Aunt’s conservatory, is Marcus Gottfried, who is keeping his identity of being Archduke of Austria a secret. He is trying to pursue his dual passions of botany and architecture. As they begin to interact with each other on more of a daily basis a friendship begins. One of the things I really enjoyed was the banter between Eleanor and Marcus. When Eleanor’s dreams are not realized and Marcus is about to lose all he has worked for in America, they both realize that maybe their plans and purposes have changed for the better good. Not only that, but a forbidden love has developed between them.
I really enjoyed this tale, and at almost 500 pages it was one to be slowly devoured. I also enjoyed learning about the true life historical characters like Adelicia Acklen Cheatham who owned Belmont Mansion located in Tennessee and a bit of the House of Hapsburg of Austria. I received this book from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) and the opinions are my own.