All That Makes Life Bright
When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet's sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do. Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed-being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman's life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband's heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned. Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations. Can their love endure, especially after "I do"? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?

All That Makes Life Bright Details

TitleAll That Makes Life Bright
Author
FormatPaperback
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherShadow Mountain
ISBN162972341X
ISBN-139781629723419
Number of pages336 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical, Romance, Christian Fiction

All That Makes Life Bright Review

  • Natasha
    April 29, 2017
    This story resonated with me as a wife and mother. When I began reading this novel, I expected it to explain how Mrs. Stowe's experiences as an abolitionist motivated her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. While this novel did depict how residents of the free state of Ohio dealt with the volatile issue of slavery, it focused mainly on the marital relationship between Calvin and Harriet Stowe. This reader would recommend the study of this novel to all engaged couples. It should be required reading durin This story resonated with me as a wife and mother. When I began reading this novel, I expected it to explain how Mrs. Stowe's experiences as an abolitionist motivated her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. While this novel did depict how residents of the free state of Ohio dealt with the volatile issue of slavery, it focused mainly on the marital relationship between Calvin and Harriet Stowe. This reader would recommend the study of this novel to all engaged couples. It should be required reading during premarital counseling. In this novel, we witness the first two years of the marriage of Calvin and Harriet Stowe. Harriet marries against her older sister's wishes. Catharine Beecher, a confirmed spinster, warns Harriet that she's giving up a promising writing career to do what any woman without her talent could do. She tells Harriet her voice will be drowned out by the cries of babies and the opinions of her husband. Harriet, naive and inexperienced in running a household, ignores her sister's words of caution, confident she's marrying a man who values her talent as a writer. Most married women, including this reviewer, could tell you just how right Harriet's sister was. The man you date is not the man you marry. Being husband and wife is quite different from being engaged or simply dating. The responsibilities of marriage bring new roles and expectations to a relationship. Becoming one is not a seamless transition. It take a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and compromise. Having grown up in a home with servants, Harriet was ill-equipped to live up to her husband's expectations for a wife. (view spoiler)[We later learn Calvin's first wife, Eliza, was the ideal wife and a tough act to follow. Harriet engages in some childish antics to express her frustration with her husband's criticism. When he invites his mother to live with them for a few weeks to teach Harriet how to manage a home and their twin daughters, things reach a boiling point. After spending a month in the country, Harriet returns home with a new sense of self, determined to put her family first while taking advantage of rare quiet moments to continue writing. (hide spoiler)] I was impressed with the concessions Calvin Stowe was willing to make to improve his marriage. Most husbands during the Victorian era or our modern era would not be that understanding. Harriet Beecher Stowe came from a very religious family. Her father was the president of Lane Seminary, and her husband was a biblical professor at the seminary. The influence of faith is woven throughout the conflicts and resolutions in this novel. In the epilogue, the vision that inspired Harriet to write Uncle Tom's Cabin is explained in a fictional story. After the epilogue, the author devotes several pages to explaining which aspects of each chapter are based on actual facts and which aspects are the creations of her imagination. I was given an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Alyssa
    April 19, 2017
  • Sally
    May 4, 2017
    I am absolutely blown away by the beauty and truth contained in this novel, a fictional accounting, of Harriet Beecher Stowe's life and marriage. I felt prepared to be disappointed - I strongly dislike fictionalizing the lives of real people - but felt I should read it soon as it IS an advanced reader edition (won as a prize in a drawing) and I do so enjoy Josi Kilpack's other works. I told myself I would give this book a very honest review if I liked it and say nothing if I did not. All in all, I am absolutely blown away by the beauty and truth contained in this novel, a fictional accounting, of Harriet Beecher Stowe's life and marriage. I felt prepared to be disappointed - I strongly dislike fictionalizing the lives of real people - but felt I should read it soon as it IS an advanced reader edition (won as a prize in a drawing) and I do so enjoy Josi Kilpack's other works. I told myself I would give this book a very honest review if I liked it and say nothing if I did not. All in all, this is a stunning book, giving us a wonderful glimpse into the life and times of one of the world's most famous female authors. This book surprised me on so many levels. I felt an immediate kinship and connection to Hettie (Stowe's favorite nickname and used by the author to differentiate her from other Harriets in the narrative). The book begins with her wedding day, misgivings and hope tangling together as she prepares for her vows, and swiftly delves into the realities of marriage vs. courtship, singleness to couple, and couple to expecting a baby. Hettie is a wonderful, vivacious personality, full of creativity and enjoyment of life - all things which draw her prospective husband to her, only to then be of little value once the true work of matrimony begins. Calvin Stowe, for his part, is stoic, strict, organized, and likes schedules. But rather than a meeting of the minds, these two clash in every possible way, despite their love for each other. That is one of the most refreshing points of this novel - two people can love each other despite going through a difficult time together.Josi S. Kilpack undertook a hard job, telling this story of a woman so far ahead of her time, but she succeeded wonderfully. Kilpack had to balance the modern sensibilities of her readers with the historical realities of Hettie's day. Women didn't have a voice in politics or the public sphere in the day's of Harriet Beecher Stowe. They were expected to devote themselves to the comfort of their husbands, children, and the care of a well run household. And there were no modern conveniences - no dishwasher, washing machine, or vacuums. This meant that household chores would take every minute of the day to complete, and those minutes mattered a lot to a young woman bursting with the need to create, to write, to be a woman of literature. I think Kilpack did very well in emphasizing both the expectations of the time period and the conflict those expectations could cause in a marriage, no matter how much love two people have for each other. The characters are very well written and sympathetic. I wanted to reach out and shake Hettie at times, but only because I've been married about ten years and her experience mirrors mine. The feelings Hettie goes through are real and present in many new marriages. Even when she devolves into juvenile behavior, she acknowledges it is juvenile and selfish, but she sees it through because she wants what she wants! I am guilty of feeling that way and behaving that way at times. The marriage depicted here, though it is a work of fiction, has so many real and raw moments. I really love that Kilpack has given us both sides to the story, allowing the story to be told from Calvin's perspective at times, making him a sympathetic character as well. As I read both of their perspectives, understanding where each of them were coming from, I did not hope one would win over the other or think one person was more right than the other. I was rooting for the marriage. :-) Isn't that how it should be? Everyone loses when a marriage fails.At the end of the book, we are gifted with a breakdown of what was fact vs. fiction in the author's work - and you can tell she did a lot of research and tried to stay true to the spirit of Harriet Beecher and Calvin Stowe. The love story, while not at all a tale of boy meets girl, is real. Love and romance do not end at the altar, but must be tested in earnest as the days turn to years and two must become one. I loved it. I will likely read it again and purchase a copy to give as a gift. :-)
    more
  • Sarah
    May 20, 2017
    This was a very different romance. It starts with the wedding and follows this couple, which just happens to be the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and her new husband, as they traverse the first two years of their marriage. Though the couple has already found their love and are already married that doesn't mean it is happily ever after. Harriet and Calvin are two very different people with opposing views on how the house should function. Harriet wants to think deap thoughts and write about the eve This was a very different romance. It starts with the wedding and follows this couple, which just happens to be the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and her new husband, as they traverse the first two years of their marriage. Though the couple has already found their love and are already married that doesn't mean it is happily ever after. Harriet and Calvin are two very different people with opposing views on how the house should function. Harriet wants to think deap thoughts and write about the events and sentiments of the day and not be tied down to the day to day chores of running the household while Calvin wants to return home from work and find his home in well order and a hot meal on the table. These differences become even more accute when a set of twins arrive less than a year after the wedding and once Calvin returns from his 9 month European trip. I thought the feelings of both Calvin and Harriet were well writen and relateable. The joining together of two lives and two ways of thinking and doing things is difficult. Each thinks they are right and that the other is just being selfish when in reality both are being selfish. I really enjoyed that Kilpack didn't pick sides and presented each simpathetically. Calvin was not painted as a tyrant and Harriet was not drawn as completely self absorbed. Due to difference in their upbringings and temperments each needed to adjust their expectations and realize and appreciate the efforts of the other. The love they had for one another and the desire to make things work was evident throughout the story. The chosen paths each takes to try to "make things work" are certainly shown to be less effective. I really appreciated the epilogue which gave us a glimpse of how their accomodations and compromises changed thier relationship and their the life of their family. While this was a fictional story based on the life of the actual author it was based on actual events and sentiments described or expressed in letters (with some creative licence, I am sure) I now what to know more about this author and her life, as well as pull Uncle Tom's Cabin off the shelf and read it again, this time not as an assignment for school. I am sure it will be even more effective now that I am a mother with children of my own.
    more
  • JoAnn
    June 10, 2017
    I received an arc via Netgalley and this is my unbiased review.A great fictionalization of author Harriet Beecher Stowe's early years of marriage. Great storyline. I enjoyed the author's writing.
  • Susan
    May 24, 2017
    review to follow
Write a review