In this richly textured debut novel, a disgraced journalist moves into her great aunt's secret-laden farmhouse and discovers that the women in her family were testaments to true love and courage in the face of war, persecution, and racism.
I have really been enjoying the time slip novels that have been coming out recently, and We Hope for Better Things is one that takes on a family through three generations of women who all know what it is like to struggle as a woman. Debut author Bartels tells her story in a fresh and memorable way and I enjoyed uncovering the secrets of this family as their past focuses on racial and unjust tension.
In modern times Journalist Elizabeth Balsam is tasked with giving a box of old photos to a distant aunt. Elizabeth is also going through some troubling circumstances that gives her a chance to come live with her great-aunt Nora, whom she didn’t even know she had. At another family member’s request, they want Elizabeth to look for any troubling signs that Nora is failing in her body and mental capacities.
Nora, though having lived a great many years, has some stories and secrets to share with Elizabeth. The other time we go back to is Nora’s own as a young woman living in Detroit during the 1960’s, the racial tension that is going on, and the man she eventually marries making family and friends displeased with their interracial romance.
The third timeline takes place with Mary Balsam who is living in the 1860’s and must watch as her husband leaves her to fight on the Union side of the Civil War. Pregnant and alone with a servant, Mary must run the farm by herself until one fateful day when her husband’s trunk arrives back to the farm.
Each chapter is set up in a different time period and in some cases there is a passage of years. We are told what time period we are in and where so there is no confusion just three great stories unraveling at once. I also liked that all three of these women have a connection to the house where Elisabeth has come to stay with Nora.
This was a riveting debut read and I look forward to more by author Bartels.
I was provided a copy of this novel by the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.