By Annette Lyon
I’ve been waiting for this next historical by Annette Lyon for over a year. Even though I read it in draft form, I was excited to read the final version. It didn’t disappoint. In fact, I can confidently say that Annette Lyon is one of the best writers in her genre. Many of you know that the 2008 Whitney Award finalists have been announced. So I’ve decided to read them all—yes—it might sound crazy, but I only have 1 ½ books to go.
So you can say that I’ve immersed myself in the LDS genre this past month, or at least books by LDS writers. And sometimes these books are automatically labeled sub-par because of previous bad attempts by other authors.
But I’ve taken a critical eye, and read the genre for what it is (yes, most of the characters are LDS, yes, most of them go through faith-affirming trials, and yes, editorial comes into play with the smaller publishers).
So when I started reading Annette’s book, my antenna was on high. One thing I know is that Annette has learned the craft of writing, she understands the rules of fiction and she willing accepts feedback from alpha readers, editors, etc. Yet, she is able to produce such a natural story-telling style, that Tower of Strength runs seamless from scene to scene.
In Tower of Strength, I really enjoyed the characters. Tabitha is widowed at a young age and moves to Logan (from Manti) in order to start over with her infant son. Six years later, she’s asked to return and take over the town newspaper in Manti. I loved the historical tie-ins that Lyon includes—from the prejudice of some of the town members of having a “woman” head up the newspaper, to the building of the Manti temple.
Also impressive is the research that Lyon has done on this time period—to the common dialog phrases used at that time, to the clothing, the food, the thoughts and attitudes of some of the early settlers.
I was most impressed with the complex characterization of Tabitha and how she comes to terms with falling in love again. Samuel, an emigrant from England, is a fun, jaunty character who has his own past and lost love to overcome. He provides a lot of comic relief during the story with his complete lack of ability to care for horses—which happens to be his job. Also, Tabitha’s mother-in-law, “Mother Hall”, is another favorite character in which the reader has a complete change of heart toward this woman by the end of the book.
Overall, I’d highly recommend Lyon’s Tower of Strength, a nice anchor to her four-volume historical temple series.