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
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherShadow Mountain
ISBN-139781629723419
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Romance, Fiction, Historical Romance

All That Makes Life Bright Review

  • Deanne Patterson
    January 1, 1970
    I'll have to admit even though I had heard of Harriet Beecher Stowe I didn't know much about her. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, Harriet Beecher was the seventh child of the Reverend Lyman Beecher, a Congregational minister and moral reformer, and Roxanna Foote Beecher.She was an American abolitionist and author.In 1836, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, professor of biblical literature at Lane. This fictional tale was fascinating to read as some of it is based on fact. The story focuses on her I'll have to admit even though I had heard of Harriet Beecher Stowe I didn't know much about her. Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, Harriet Beecher was the seventh child of the Reverend Lyman Beecher, a Congregational minister and moral reformer, and Roxanna Foote Beecher.She was an American abolitionist and author.In 1836, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, professor of biblical literature at Lane. This fictional tale was fascinating to read as some of it is based on fact. The story focuses on her and Calvin's early married life. They had 3 children in 2 years and ending up having a total of seven. In this story,Hattie,as she is called since she also has a daughter named Harriet is frustrated and insecure. She would rather write than do her duties of caring for the house . When the babies come along she is even more overwhelmed with child rearing duties and doesn't know how to manage her time properly. Calvin brings his mother in to teach her how to manage the house and children which while giving her help it also makes her feel as a failure. At the point of exhaustion she collapses and is sent way to recuperate. Missing her children and husband dreadfully she does recover and her husband is more understanding of her needs once she returns home. Harriet Beecher's most famous work is Uncle Tom's Cabin,she was one of the best-selling authors of the 19th century. I love historical fiction books like this that are steeped in facts as I am always willing to learn more!Pub Date 05 Sep 2017 Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)
    January 1, 1970
    I knew nothing about Harriet Beecher Stowe before I read this book, although the name was familiar. It was fascinating to learn about who the real woman was- most known for authoring Uncle Tom's Cabin, while also enjoying a fictionalized account of a portion of her early married life. (In the afterword the author tells chapter by chapter what is based off research, accounts, and letters, which I appreciated). I had many feelings while reading this book! The author does a skillful job of showing I knew nothing about Harriet Beecher Stowe before I read this book, although the name was familiar. It was fascinating to learn about who the real woman was- most known for authoring Uncle Tom's Cabin, while also enjoying a fictionalized account of a portion of her early married life. (In the afterword the author tells chapter by chapter what is based off research, accounts, and letters, which I appreciated). I had many feelings while reading this book! The author does a skillful job of showing the perspective of both Harriet and her new husband Calvin, and making the reader sympathetic to both sides. It made me remember the first year of my marriage and the transition from being centered on one's self to being required to care for another's desires as well. Harriet's circumstance is more extreme of course, with the role of a wife still strongly traditional, not being raised to keep house but rather pursue intellectual edification, and becoming pregnant quickly and giving birth. Although they love each other, Harriet and Calvin are opposite in nature and the frustrations that build ebb and flow until a breaking point is reached (which was surprisingly emotional for me and I had to wipe away a few tears). I loved Harriet's strong desire to keep a hold of herself and continue what she and many viewed as her God-given talent and purpose of writing, especially to persuade her readers to a new opinion or viewpoint. Her struggles with keeping a balance in her life are all too real, and the pressure from several people whose opinion she values add to her burden. It shows how important it is for a couple to take each other into consideration and be compassionate while still feeling heard and respected. Sometimes it seems impossible, but as Harriet and Calvin each turn to God in prayer their hearts are softened and the answers that they seek begin to come, along with the blessing of peace. I loved that this story was based on a real woman who had a major influence on our country's history, and it showed that she like so many struggled with, learned to manage, and found joy in the balance of self and home.(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
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  • Julie Carpenter
    January 1, 1970
    What a beautiful story. I had a long drive home a few days ago and downloaded this audiobook for my trip. I had my four daughters all with me and although they started out protesting listening to another book of mom's choice, wanting an adventure or fantasy book to listen to of their choice, they were instantly hooked. It took us the whole drive to listen to the story and if I paused it or we stopped for a break somewhere, my daughters were all asking right away to please turn back on the story. What a beautiful story. I had a long drive home a few days ago and downloaded this audiobook for my trip. I had my four daughters all with me and although they started out protesting listening to another book of mom's choice, wanting an adventure or fantasy book to listen to of their choice, they were instantly hooked. It took us the whole drive to listen to the story and if I paused it or we stopped for a break somewhere, my daughters were all asking right away to please turn back on the story. It's an emotionally captivating story for sure and had us in tears at several different parts. One of my daughters was hiding her face a little at a part closer to the end. When I asked her if she was ok, she hurriedly wiped at her eyes, looked at me with tears still brimming over, and said "I can't stop crying. This is making me cry. I don't know why." With what was happening in the story and the build up to that point, I knew exactly why she was crying. We paused it and talked for a few minutes and it was a sweet moment to discuss this with my daughters.This was so wonderful to learn more about Harriet Beecher Stowe. Everyone probably knows that she was the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. I can not even begin to count the numerous times we talked about that book and named the author in school growing up. I've actually never read it. It's been one I've thought about lots, especially after watching and rewatching The King and I or Anna and the King. I think I really need to change (or add to) the association I have with the book by actually reading it.This book starts off with Harriet on her wedding day and her hopeful thoughts of what she will accomplish with her life married to Calvin Stowe and the good man that he is. How he values her educated mind and her opinions and wants her to succeed in her writing endeavors. Harriet's sister sheds some doubt on that and then we jump right into their married life. I cannot say how much this made me pause and think back on my married life. Especially those early years of creating a life with my husband. We were young and naive and full of hopes, dreams and love. To say everything was always perfect is not true. We had moments where we saw things differently, had different expectations and had disagreements. It wasn't all roses or peaches and cream. It was learning and growing and sacrificing and becoming one together, supporting and giving and loving. Not taking away each other's dreams but supporting and finding a good balance to make sure we both had our needs met. Sometimes it was hard. Other times it was easy. And almost two decades into our marriage it still takes work and time and sacrifice, and it will continue to throughout our whole lives.I loved how Josi Kilpack showed all of that in this book. I think there were added hardships with Harriet and Calvin's marriage that came with their families (not purposefully), the time in which they lived, their work, a previous marriage for Calvin (his wife was Harriet's best friend and had passed away only a few years into their marriage without having any children). Every marriage has struggles to sort out, some have more and others have less. But regardless of whatever struggles there are, the important thing is to work together. To be united. The love you have for your spouse makes sacrifices and change and growth easier to deal with because you want wants best for them and they for you. Communication is a must. Without it, there is no comfort, no understanding, constant frustrations. Without it how can two people truly know and understand the other's needs and desires, dreams and struggles?I think this book will resonate with so many people. They will look back and remember struggles within their relationship. They will remember the joys of overcoming those struggles. They will remember so many moments of learning how to be a wife/husband, mother/father, shedding independence and putting on the responsibility of someone depending on you.Honestly it was just beautiful. It was emotionally taxing at some points. Harriet's struggles were real and there were so many outside forces that forced her to grow. Her love of writing was hard to put aside and her husband's beliefs of what their marriage would entail were not always in line with what she believed it would entail. Through struggles and change and heartache, separation while Calvin traveled for work, children, exhaustion, a mother in law living with them to teach her, Harriet came to realize who she was and what she was made of. Through love and forgiveness and understanding Harriet and Calvin come to learn what marriage is and how to give and sacrifice as needed. I loved how her writing was spoken of and showed the reader what brought her to write about slavery and standing up against it. It wasn't just a one moment decision but many years of watching and learning to understand and to be guided by God that she came to the point in her life where she wrote her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin. This book barely even mentions her writing that book in the epilogue at the very end. So if you go into this thinking you're going to learn all about her writing her book, it's not about that. It's about her becoming the woman she was to write that book.I didn't intend for this review to be as long as it turned out to be. I had a couple thoughts I wanted to share and then I just kept typing as more thoughts came into my head. If you're looking for a great historical fiction I highly recommend this one. There is an opening author's note about the timeline as well as chapter notes that you get a better understanding of why the author wrote what she did and about certain events. I would also recommend this author's other historical romance books about Sir Walter Scott and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny AppletonContent: Clean. Some talk about intimate relations between Harriet and Calvin but was not graphic. I had all my daughters listening with me and was not embarrassed or trying to skip past those spots while listening. Some moments of peril, and illness throughout.I listened to an audiobook on my Deseret Bookshelf account.Happy Reading!!!
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  • Natasha
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    I am not familiar with the name Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although, after reading this book, I had to go learn more about this woman. Harriet showed a lot of courage and backbone to stand up and lend her voice to the injustice of slavery. The world can not have enough of strong women; who are smart and not afraid to speak up. Another reader commented and said that she did not like how in the beginning of the story, Harriet acted like a spoiled brat by not doing any house chores. I agree that Harrie I am not familiar with the name Harriet Beecher Stowe. Although, after reading this book, I had to go learn more about this woman. Harriet showed a lot of courage and backbone to stand up and lend her voice to the injustice of slavery. The world can not have enough of strong women; who are smart and not afraid to speak up. Another reader commented and said that she did not like how in the beginning of the story, Harriet acted like a spoiled brat by not doing any house chores. I agree that Harriet did come off that way and it was not fair as she did make a commitment when she married to honor, cherish, love her husband. Part of marriage is making an effort. Yet, I was not put off so much by Harriet's attitude as I was her husband, Calvin. He was too demanding, whiny, and not very supportive of Harriet. So, I really had no lost love when he went away. Yet, after he came back, it took a little while for me to warm up to him but I did warm up to him. In fact, as the story progressed, I found Calvin and Harriet to be a good couple. The things they did together to help abolish slavery was great. This is a lovely read.
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  • Aimee (Getting Your Read On)
    January 1, 1970
    It's sometimes hard to imagine how life would have been if I had lived in the early 1800's when the country was changing so quickly and women were so repressed. But then Josi Kilpack comes along and makes me feel like Harriet's life could have been my life or the life of any of us because of the common desires, thoughts and feelings that inherently makes us women. I did not know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe before reading this book other than her famous writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin. I love h It's sometimes hard to imagine how life would have been if I had lived in the early 1800's when the country was changing so quickly and women were so repressed. But then Josi Kilpack comes along and makes me feel like Harriet's life could have been my life or the life of any of us because of the common desires, thoughts and feelings that inherently makes us women. I did not know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe before reading this book other than her famous writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin. I love how personable Harriet and Calvin became to me and how much of myself I could see in them. Kilpack does an excellent job of bringing this bit of history to life and I loved her notes in the back for each chapter. It points to research well done which can be felt in each page of this book.There is nothing heart pounding or edge of your seat in this book. It's simply a story about two people trying to work through the messy bits of life and relationships to find happiness and peace. I felt the connection to the characters and the story. I feel like I now have a better understanding of Harriet Beecher Stowe and I'm the better for it.Content: Some references to intimate relations between a husband and wife with no details.- I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Lisa (Bookworm Lisa)
    January 1, 1970
    ***4.5 stars***This is an amazing book. I had a little trouble getting into it, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.Harriet Beecher Stowe was a woman of talent. She had a free spirit and intellect. She also fell in love in the 1800's, a time where women were not as valued for being independent thinkers.This book takes a close look at the make up of marriage relationships. Expectations can make or break a marriage. I loved watching the struggles of Harriet and Calvin as they learn how to compr ***4.5 stars***This is an amazing book. I had a little trouble getting into it, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.Harriet Beecher Stowe was a woman of talent. She had a free spirit and intellect. She also fell in love in the 1800's, a time where women were not as valued for being independent thinkers.This book takes a close look at the make up of marriage relationships. Expectations can make or break a marriage. I loved watching the struggles of Harriet and Calvin as they learn how to compromise. I can't imaging being a wife and a mother in the 1800's without our modern conveniences and have time to do everything perfectly. Harriet didn't know how to do it, and amazing brilliant woman wasn't perfect at everything. That gives me hope for myself. :)This is not your typical romance book. The book begins on the couple's wedding day. It is about finding romance when life becomes mired in the everyday tasks. There is kissing and implied relations between husband and wife.Source: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Alyssa
    January 1, 1970
  • Rachelle
    January 1, 1970
    I love historical fiction and each Proper Romance novel that Josi Kilpack has written about a person who actually existed in history has been such a joy to read. I love Kilpack's attention to detail, author's notes regarding actual vs. fictional accounts, and the incredible way that she is able to bring historical figures to life. The story of Harriet Beecher Stowe was new to me. I had heard of her and knew she was connected somewhat to issues of anti-slavery during the Civil War because of her I love historical fiction and each Proper Romance novel that Josi Kilpack has written about a person who actually existed in history has been such a joy to read. I love Kilpack's attention to detail, author's notes regarding actual vs. fictional accounts, and the incredible way that she is able to bring historical figures to life. The story of Harriet Beecher Stowe was new to me. I had heard of her and knew she was connected somewhat to issues of anti-slavery during the Civil War because of her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, but that was all I knew. After reading this novel, I feel a great respect and admiration for the difficulty any woman in the early 1800s went through to live life and have some semblance of creativity, individuality, and a voice.I think one of the reasons I loved this story so much is that I completely empathize with Hattie. As a mother of five children who also loves creative pursuits like writing, music, and art, I have found it to be a constant struggle to balance the needs of my family with my desire to continue developing other God-given talents. It was a balm to my soul to realize that I am not alone, nor ever have been, in my struggles. In this story, Hattie has a compelling need to write while at the same time absolutely loving the privilege of being a wife and a mother. Although not all details are exactly as occurred, I think it is fascinating that so much of the sentiments expressed were actually found in letters of correspondence to Hattie and her husband and other family members.I am certain that when you read this novel, you will find something that also connects you to this influential and impressive woman who lived at such a tumultuous and pivotal time in history. All That Makes Life Bright will make you laugh, grit your teeth, cry, and feel the emotions of a time in history that continues to affect us now.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. This is one of Kilpack’s best books, and my favorite in this series. It is well researched, but it’s a fictional narrative of the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. I never knew before what a handful she was! I took turns pitying and groaning over both her and her husband in their unmatched, trying marriage. But it was her recounting of the frustrations of being a new Mom that felt especially authentic to me. I was blinking back a few tears in commiseration with her trying to learn to bal 3.5 stars. This is one of Kilpack’s best books, and my favorite in this series. It is well researched, but it’s a fictional narrative of the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. I never knew before what a handful she was! I took turns pitying and groaning over both her and her husband in their unmatched, trying marriage. But it was her recounting of the frustrations of being a new Mom that felt especially authentic to me. I was blinking back a few tears in commiseration with her trying to learn to balance the new demands on her life. It was a little repetitive at times, but all in all, I liked this one!
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    At times this frustrated and angered me early 19th century attitudes toward women are not easy for a 21st century woman to tolerate. The focus on the marriage relationship and the hardships encountered there was very convincing, and faith in God was beautifully expressed throughout the story. The dialogue felt a bit modern and informal, but I am not an expert on these things and it did not bother me that much. Popsugar 2018: A novel based on a real person.
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  • Becca
    January 1, 1970
    I have so much love for the Proper Romance books, and this one is no exception. Kilpack's writing makes me want to weep....in a good way. She just grabs you right from the beginning, and brings you into the world of the books she writes. The writing is beautiful. The historical setting is awesome. I just don't think I can say enough good things about this book.I like that Kilpack has taken on writing about Historical Figures in a few of her novels, it just brings them to life for me. This book e I have so much love for the Proper Romance books, and this one is no exception. Kilpack's writing makes me want to weep....in a good way. She just grabs you right from the beginning, and brings you into the world of the books she writes. The writing is beautiful. The historical setting is awesome. I just don't think I can say enough good things about this book.I like that Kilpack has taken on writing about Historical Figures in a few of her novels, it just brings them to life for me. This book especially. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I didn't know anything about Harriet Beecher Stowe. I have heard of her books, but I guess I just never connected the author to the person. Does that make sense?This book brought this amazing character right to my front room, while she lived her life in my head. Harriet, is a talented and intellectual woman. When she starts dating Calvin, he admits that her intellect is what endeared her to him. Harriet found herself moving on to the world of being a wife. She thought this would just make everything in her life just "that much" better. Harriet's sister Catherine did not see it that way. She thought Harriet was wasting her life getting married just to be "ruled" by a man. Catherine believed teaching and writing were what Harriet's true calling in life.I could never have lived in these times when women seem to just be door mats. I appreciated the fact that when Harriet first got married she didn't fall under the "typical" wife during that time. Although she found herself struggling to meet the "requirements" of being a wife, and now, after only being married a few short months, a new mom.As I journeyed with Harriet and her struggles, and triumphs I felt as though I was living her life. That is how good Kilpack's writing is for me. I felt her pain as she struggled to fulfill her duties to be a wife, writer, artist, and mother. I felt her triumphs. I felt her sadness. Harriet and Calvin's marriage is not an easy one, but it is one that is worth reading about. I have to admit at the beginning I really disliked Calvin, but as the book goes on, I came to realize what a really wonderful man he was. It just took him some time to figure it out as well.If you like historical romances with historical figures :)....you will love this book. Kilpack is an amazing writer. Her stories play out as movies while I read them. I yell, cry, and walk away with frustration at times, because that is how "real" her characters become to me. Such a great book.Source: I was given this book as part of a blog tour. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.
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  • Jane Potter
    January 1, 1970
    When I first saw this book, I knew I would love it. A novel about the life of a famous author? Yes, please!This was a book that I wanted to read at the expense of everything else in my life. I connected easily with the characters, especially Hattie. I enjoyed getting some background on her early marriage struggles and the ways she and Calvin overcame their differences. At times, the book read more like a contemporary novel than historical fiction. Some of Hattie's thoughts seemed more from 2017 When I first saw this book, I knew I would love it. A novel about the life of a famous author? Yes, please!This was a book that I wanted to read at the expense of everything else in my life. I connected easily with the characters, especially Hattie. I enjoyed getting some background on her early marriage struggles and the ways she and Calvin overcame their differences. At times, the book read more like a contemporary novel than historical fiction. Some of Hattie's thoughts seemed more from 2017 than the 1830s. But those were minor for me. A fun novel! I hope to read more of her novels about authors!
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  • Mindy
    January 1, 1970
    Josi has a wonderful way of bringing characters to life. I didn't know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe and this novel was a wonderful (fictional) portrayal of who she was. As well as of her husband Calvin and other family members. Harriet was brought to life in this book and reading it made me appreciate and commend her life and achievements. I applauded the author's research and the care she put into writing this book. As always, I loved Josi's explanations in the author notes of the real even Josi has a wonderful way of bringing characters to life. I didn't know much about Harriet Beecher Stowe and this novel was a wonderful (fictional) portrayal of who she was. As well as of her husband Calvin and other family members. Harriet was brought to life in this book and reading it made me appreciate and commend her life and achievements. I applauded the author's research and the care she put into writing this book. As always, I loved Josi's explanations in the author notes of the real events versus her own input. There are some very touching and beautiful moments in the book as well.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Tressa (Wishful Endings)
    January 1, 1970
    Lots and lots of Kleenexes for this one... So very good!
  • Lyssa
    January 1, 1970
    Like most Americans, I've grown up hearing Harriet Beecher Stowe's name in school. I never read Uncle Tom's Cabin and didn't really know much more than that she wrote it and was therefore a famous female author. So I came into this story with no preconceived notions. That said, it took a little while for the story to really pull me in. Ms. Kilpack's characters are as relatable as ever. When Hattie and Calvin argued, I could understand the frustration on both sides. I loved that the relationships Like most Americans, I've grown up hearing Harriet Beecher Stowe's name in school. I never read Uncle Tom's Cabin and didn't really know much more than that she wrote it and was therefore a famous female author. So I came into this story with no preconceived notions. That said, it took a little while for the story to really pull me in. Ms. Kilpack's characters are as relatable as ever. When Hattie and Calvin argued, I could understand the frustration on both sides. I loved that the relationships (marital and familial) were not perfect and had their challenges and sore spots. Loss is a thread sensitively woven throughout the novel. I really felt like I got an interesting look at life back then, within the home as women's roles were beginning to change: the position of a woman in the family, her role, what was expected of her, etc. Hattie's situation was especially interesting as she had been brought up with money (and servants) and taught to pursue education, and struggled when her marriage was not a lateral move. Hattie was definitely ahead of her time. I found the way she tried to balance the expectations for a wife and her spirit absolutely fascinating. I loved the role family played all throughout this novel. Remarriages, squabbles over money and promises, providing advice, direction and protection. I loved the way Calvin and Hattie both turned to their parents for support, but ultimately had to find their own way. And despite their imperfect history, in the end, Catharine fiercely protected Hattie. The themes of prayer, hope and forgiveness were perfect and convicted me personally. My favorite part was a candid conversation between father and daughter, not because it was a perfect response or solution, but I loved that he redirected Hattie back to her husband. A loving parent is perhaps the one person we might expect to be in our corner no matter what. But being in our corner sometimes means speaking truth into our lives rather than platitudes. It ended up being a catalyst that eventually led to reunion and healing. I should also say that I always appreciate when an author includes notes on fact vs. fiction when they base a novel off of a real person. Ms. Kilpack goes above and beyond here.I highly recommend this book. There is so much to love here: interesting family dynamics, a realistic love story, relatable characters with strong personalities, humor, personal growth, and a dose of history. Can't wait for more from this author!
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  • Jamie
    January 1, 1970
    I just finished Uncle Toms Cabin and learning about the authors life was enjoyable for me. I found myself relating so much to Hattie and her experiences as a new wife and mother. There were a lot of tears on my part. Feminism has been on my mind and this book follows The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands for my book club. Let’s just say that I think this book is a excellent example of a woman trying to implement all of the advice from The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and completely losi I just finished Uncle Toms Cabin and learning about the authors life was enjoyable for me. I found myself relating so much to Hattie and her experiences as a new wife and mother. There were a lot of tears on my part. Feminism has been on my mind and this book follows The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands for my book club. Let’s just say that I think this book is a excellent example of a woman trying to implement all of the advice from The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands and completely losing her own identity and well being, oh and her relationship wasn’t improving with her husband. Women have to often been placed in such a narrow box of what they “should” be and do, often to their own detriment and I especially loved the part in the book where Hattie asks her husband why he married her. This conversation was the beginning of his realization that he had unrealistic expectations of his wife and was expecting her to be like is former, dead wife Eliza and his mom Hepsibah. So the take away from this book for me was take care of yourself, you will be a better mother and wife when you do the things that you know fill your cup and not necessarily the things others say “should” fill your cup.
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  • Wendy Jensen
    January 1, 1970
    Harriet Beecher Stowe was the authoress of over 30 books (fiction and non fiction as well as many essays, poems, articles and hymns. Her most famous literary work, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," is said to be 2nd only to the Bible in book sales in the 19th century. Not only did it make Stowe a wealthy woman, it had a profound impact on the abolitionist movement that moved America towards the Civil War."All That Makes Life Bright" gives a glimpse into the first 18 months of Stowe's marriage during a time t Harriet Beecher Stowe was the authoress of over 30 books (fiction and non fiction as well as many essays, poems, articles and hymns. Her most famous literary work, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," is said to be 2nd only to the Bible in book sales in the 19th century. Not only did it make Stowe a wealthy woman, it had a profound impact on the abolitionist movement that moved America towards the Civil War."All That Makes Life Bright" gives a glimpse into the first 18 months of Stowe's marriage during a time that life and the expectations for a married woman were vastly different than they are today. Set in the mid 1830's, Josi S. Kilpack effectively tells of the conflicted desires for a gifted woman who struggled with the day to day challenges of keeping a home. Describing the pull of Stowe towards literary pursuits and her discouragement with home-making she writes, "What she did have was time and words and a passionate heart. She believed God had given him for a reason."While this is a fictionalized work, it effectively reveals a portion of what life may have been for a talented woman in 1836. The notes included in the book clarify the facts from the fiction and explain how the fictionalized segments fit the day and time. And now I feel I must read "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
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  • Nathalie S
    January 1, 1970
    I can't make up my mind whether I liked this book or not. There were elements which drove me crazy like husband Calvin insisting their first baby girl be called after his dead first wife Eliza. Later, after he finds out Harriet gave birth to twin girls and had named them Eliza and Isabella (after her much loved younger sister), he insisted-again-that Isabella be renamed Harriet--twin daughters, twin wives. Barf. I know that times were different then, but it still bothered me how Harriet was made I can't make up my mind whether I liked this book or not. There were elements which drove me crazy like husband Calvin insisting their first baby girl be called after his dead first wife Eliza. Later, after he finds out Harriet gave birth to twin girls and had named them Eliza and Isabella (after her much loved younger sister), he insisted-again-that Isabella be renamed Harriet--twin daughters, twin wives. Barf. I know that times were different then, but it still bothered me how Harriet was made to feel guilty for not living up to everyone else's ideas of what she should be as the "ideal" wife and mother. It practically and almost literally killed her. Thanks goodness for her older sister Katherine for stepping up and intervening. All's well that ends well but there are many issues which really rankled. The author did a great job as usual in recounting this "proper romance"; it was just some of the protagonists, like Calvin, his mother and Harriet's father and his 3rd (!) wife which bothered me. To their credit (or to the author's credit), Calvin and Harriet's father do admit they were wrong.
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  • Susan K
    January 1, 1970
    Romance, period, clean, mild Christian faith elementsThis was a lovely, tender, heart wrenching, real story of the early married life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. A very real, cracks, hurts, drudgery, reality filled moments life based on her actual life and accomplishments. Lovely portrait of women's lives in that time period, and how they faced such physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges as they had to face every day existence. Harriet and Calvin's married life, and how they fit together Romance, period, clean, mild Christian faith elementsThis was a lovely, tender, heart wrenching, real story of the early married life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. A very real, cracks, hurts, drudgery, reality filled moments life based on her actual life and accomplishments. Lovely portrait of women's lives in that time period, and how they faced such physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges as they had to face every day existence. Harriet and Calvin's married life, and how they fit together made for a poignant portrait of the life they were building together, and the challenges they faced. While this is a period novel, and based on actual events the challenges they faced as a couple and their learning to cherish each other, and work together, while facing the difficulties and chaos of early family life with children was beautifully written, and a pleasure to read.I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. My opinions are my own.
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  • Readingbringsjoy
    January 1, 1970
    Hatties journey to becoming a wife and mother was very flawed, as is all of our journeys I think. She would continually lose herself in her love of writing or visiting with friends and family that she would put off any and all household chores. Seeing such a real life marriage displayed in this story is one of the reasons why I loved it. Hattie and Calvin truly struggled to find balance in their marriage and then when they became parents. It was refreshing to me to read a story where the couple Hatties journey to becoming a wife and mother was very flawed, as is all of our journeys I think. She would continually lose herself in her love of writing or visiting with friends and family that she would put off any and all household chores. Seeing such a real life marriage displayed in this story is one of the reasons why I loved it. Hattie and Calvin truly struggled to find balance in their marriage and then when they became parents. It was refreshing to me to read a story where the couple go through real life struggles and joys of adjusting to marriage and parenthood. This story is about fighting for what is important, and struggling to find balance in the home and family. I really enjoyed reading this book and I related to a lot of the circumstances Hattie went through. I would recommend this book for people who enjoy reading fictional retellings of literary writers. As well as for readers who enjoy historical fiction. Harriets life unfolds during a time when people were choosing what side they were going to take on the serious issue of Slavery.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn’t sure how much I’d get into this book just because the other similar books in this series were interesting but not my favorite. However, All that Makes Life Bright was really enjoyable for me. I’m not sure if it was because it was about a woman and I could relate better than the books about male historical figures, or if it was something else entirely. Kilpack had me crying several times during this book. I couldn’t help but think that if this were set in modern times Harriet and Calvin I wasn’t sure how much I’d get into this book just because the other similar books in this series were interesting but not my favorite. However, All that Makes Life Bright was really enjoyable for me. I’m not sure if it was because it was about a woman and I could relate better than the books about male historical figures, or if it was something else entirely. Kilpack had me crying several times during this book. I couldn’t help but think that if this were set in modern times Harriet and Calvin would have divorced. It was touching that they focused on their marriage covenant when times got tough instead of just throwing in the towel.It was a bit of a slow read for me, but not in a bad way. It was just real. I haven’t made it through all of the chapter notes at the end of the book yet, but I do appreciate that the author included those so we can separate fact from fiction.One line stood out to me when Harriet’s father told her perfection is a sin. I’ve definitely never thought that before. Interesting.*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. Thus isn’t my most favorite book by Josi, but I found myself relating to s lot of the feelings Mrs. Stowe ft about motherhood, domestic duties, being a wife, and the feelings of drowning, being unheard, and losing your place in life. I do want to know more about the Stowe family and actually read Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I did not have the overwhelming feelings to the extent that Hattie did of motherhood. I did have my hard days. But I admired that she raised 6 children and things that we have easier today was so much harder when she was raising a family.
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  • Deyanne
    January 1, 1970
    I completely understand how difficult it would be to create the personality of a character based on primary documents and facts. What did inspire Harriet Beecher Stowe to pen her famous novel? I admire Harriet for what she accomplished. Just couldn't stay with this novel. Chapter notes were the most interesting part for me.
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  • Teresa
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this book a lot because it reflected many of my own feelings. I could understand the difficulty balancing home and family. I can understand feeling like you can't meet expectations, but gratefully my husband is much more understanding of my needs. I can especially understand having a young family and feeling the pressure do it all.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful. I thought it was a bit slow at first but the more I got into it the more it truly related to my life and how I felt about a lot of things. I couldn't put it down in the end.
  • Wendy
    January 1, 1970
    This detailed look at the first couple years of Calvin and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s married life together was fascinating, the story was real and full of human emotion. Meshing lives from upbringings on the opposite ends of the spectrum, finding a balance both partners can feel validated in, maintaining your identity, growing a family and finding happiness is a huge mountain to ascend. There was no sugar coating the issue here, it was real. It was hard. It was almost too hard. But they did it. Th This detailed look at the first couple years of Calvin and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s married life together was fascinating, the story was real and full of human emotion. Meshing lives from upbringings on the opposite ends of the spectrum, finding a balance both partners can feel validated in, maintaining your identity, growing a family and finding happiness is a huge mountain to ascend. There was no sugar coating the issue here, it was real. It was hard. It was almost too hard. But they did it. Their story was so relatable and real. With marriage & family that’s what it is, finding a balance in your partnership that comes with a great deal of trial and error, mutual toleration, forgiveness, love and discovering what you can do “for” each other. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and thought the writing although fiction based on true events was very well done.
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  • Chrissy
    January 1, 1970
    This book made me think about A LOT of things, so buckle up - this is going to be a bit of a ride.All I knew about Harriet Beecher Stowe before this book was that she’d written Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which essentially led to the Civil War. And I had no idea the things she’d gone through in her life. True, a lot of this novel was fictionalized (which the author freely admits to in the intro/foreword of the book), but it was done in such a way that you realize that these historical figures who led rea This book made me think about A LOT of things, so buckle up - this is going to be a bit of a ride.All I knew about Harriet Beecher Stowe before this book was that she’d written Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which essentially led to the Civil War. And I had no idea the things she’d gone through in her life. True, a lot of this novel was fictionalized (which the author freely admits to in the intro/foreword of the book), but it was done in such a way that you realize that these historical figures who led real lives. These aren’t just names in a history book or pushing a political narrative. They also aren't they typical "happily ever after" romance, either. Most romances end with the couple getting married and riding off into the sunset, but this story is about what the main couple does after the wedding - how they make the work of marriage work.I’m reminded of the ending of one of my favorite movies, Ever After, where the woman telling the story - the great-some-odd granddaughter of the main characters - says that the point of her story wasn’t just that Cinderella and her prince lived happily ever after, the point is that they lived. Even though that particular movie is about fictional people, this can certainly be applied with this story. Much of the book is about Hattie (as she is known to her family) and Calvin’s early years of marriage and trying to figure each other out and how to make a life together, even with all their idiosyncrasies. It’s just like any other married couple you know - maybe even yourself. I especially connected with Hattie’s desire to write and have time for herself while also doing everything that a good wife and mother should do. It was interesting to me that all the “advice” she got from her family was pretty terrible for her situation. Reminded me of all the blogs and Facebook posts that people share about having the absolute DEFINITIVE solution to running a good home and family. Reading too much of that can be overwhelming, especially when you’re already busting your own backside to do everything you feel is expected of you - whether those expectations come from other people or yourself.There were several times in the book where Hattie was doing everything she could and wearing herself out to please her husband and I thought that surely Calvin was going to praise her efforts or at least comment that she was doing absolute her best - but instead he criticized her and made her feel worse about herself. That fight in the end might have been terrible, but it was a long time coming and it was actually a relief to get there. I may be an awful person for saying so, but something had to give. I was feeling the tension between Hattie and Calvin and I’m nearly two hundred year in the future from them!Though I can understand (kind of) where Calvin was coming from in his criticism of Hattie, growing up with the sort of mother portrayed here - the kind that did everything for him and never made him feel like he had to do much to help with things around the house. But, seriously - you're upset that the newspapers aren't put away "just so"??? My mom gave me several pieces of advice about marriage as I was growing up - one that I remember is not to put up with your husband saying his mom did this or that for him and could I please do it the same way (I’m happy to say my husband does NOT do that). Frankly, that sounds like a toddler that gets mad because you gave him a blue cup instead of a green one.And eeeesh... can I just say how happy I am that I don’t have a mother-in-law like Hattie does? The only time Mother Stowe shows any kind of kindness or compassion toward Hattie is when Hattie is throwing up from morning sickness (presumably, she was kind enough to Hattie when she fainted from exhaustion doing the wash to call for help, but since Hattie was unconscious during that part, the reader doesn’t see it). But at every turn and corner, Mother Stowe belittles Hattie and questions her instincts over the babies. I was livid when Mother Stowe said that the twins were too young to have baby food when Hattie suggested she start feeding them gruel because she was afraid they weren’t getting enough when they nursed. It’s like - LADY! Don’t you think these babies’ mother would know how to take care of her own children? Don’t you see how she’s beating herself into the ground (almost literally!) to please you?That was frustrating. And Hattie's own family wasn't much help either. Not until she worked herself into exhaustion and her body literally could not do anything else.Though I do have to wonder how much of Mother Stowe’s perception of Hattie was from Calvin complaining about his wife to his mother. Which is another piece of marriage advice I’ve heard before - don’t complain about your spouse to outsiders. You may just be venting and need to let off steam, but if all people hear about your spouse is negative, they may think your marriage is in trouble (obviously, this is in ordinary circumstances and over small disagreements - I’m certainly not talking about abusive or violent situations). I am glad that we didn’t see Calvin’s final confrontation with his mother, though. At the end, things were getting put back together and there’d been enough negativity to serve the plot by then.True, Hattie wasn’t completely without blame, either. The “focus exercise” stunt she pulled before Calvin sent for his mother was pretty childish. And she did need to learn to manage her time and resources better. This wasn’t just about women being repressed in this time period (though how much of that repression was at the hands of other women, I have to wonder) and I did appreciate that aspect of the story. Yes, women didn’t have as many opportunities as they do now - voting, education, careers, etc. - but this particular woman eventually wrote a book that effectively ended slavery in the United States, for heaven sake! How oppressed could she truly have been? This story is about how she became that woman - how she learned to find happiness in her marriage and children, and also being an accomplished writer that history looks on favorably. Sure, her formal education went a long way in Hattie cultivating her own intelligence and tenacity - but there had to be more to it than simple classroom work. You learn so much by experiencing life and there are few places where you learn more about charity and compassion and balance than in your own family. Those experiences led Hattie to a place where she could write about grand injustices and be able to relate it to regular people living regular lives.This story certainly taught me a few things about balancing home, family, and yourself. I’ve definitely had times where I’ve felt stretched too thin and I’m just about to my breaking point and I have to step aside for a while. I’m fortunate that I not only live in a time where I have things like running water and electricity and refrigerators and vacuum cleaners and washers and dryers (every time Mother Stowe went over the daily chores with Hattie, I counted my blessings that I have modern conveniences that turn those chores into simple tasks, rather than all-day ordeals), but I’m also blessed to have a husband who helps me and extended family who pitch in when needed. But I have to remind myself to rest and reboot before heading off to deal with yet-another dinner or diaper change or trip to the store. I'm no good to anyone if I don't take care of myself.I probably would have enjoyed this book before I was married and had a baby, but I got so much more out of it this side of motherhood. Probably helped that I listened to the audiobook while I was taking care of my little guy and straightening up the house or just relaxing while the baby slept (let’s add audiobooks and audio players to the list of modern conveniences that we’re all grateful for - I’ve “read” so many more books that way and still taken care of everything I needed to do). Nothing like hearing a story about the challenges of motherhood while you’re actually doing the motherhood thing.Hattie’s story here, while fictionalized (though thoroughly researched), gives me hope that one day I’ll be able to make something of my own writing again. Haven’t mentioned this much yet, but I used to have a full-time job where I wrote for an opinion blog, but I was laid off after my son was born (long and painful story that doesn’t need to be re-hashed yet again right now). Overall, I enjoyed my work (even with its many challenges) and I still love to write - even if it’s just in my journal for myself. I don’t know when/if I’ll get to do it again, but for now I’m happy to be focused on being a wife and mom. Like Hattie, I’m going to let God sort out the future. I’ll take care of what I can take care of and go from there.Five out of five stars. What? You think I’d do anything else after I’ve rambled on for so long about this??? :)
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