A Hearth in Candlewood was my first exposure to Delia Parr. She strikes me as highly character-centric, which I prefer. Historically set in the canal..Show More »-building era prior to the railway boon, Candlewood is a small town in the midst of transition. The characters also are in a similar state of transition, from the retired pastor and widows who live at Hill House to the young ladies who work there. In the center of it all is Emma, proprietress of the boarding house known as Hill House for its expansive hilltop viewpoint overlooking the new canal. Parr's tale of the town and the characters in it didn't draw me in as powerfully as Jan Karon's Mitford, whose characters are nearly as real to me as people I've actually met, but at the same time, I am eager to hear more of their lives. A comforting message of trusting God in uncertainty, living peaceably, and the value of having purpose in one's life regardless of age are ongoing themes in the book. At first, I was dissatisfied with the ending until I learned there were two more books in the trilogy. I guess I will be making another visit to Candlewood in the future.
Now that I've been introduced to Emma and her little community of Candlewood in book one, I really enjoyed the return visit. Since all the ground wor..Show More »k of characterization was laid so well, more time could be devoted to the story moving forward. This installment seemed to have a bit deeper meaning, as well. From learning to love the unloveable, facing fears and finding new purpose all in the midst of tragedy, Refining Emma shared poignant moments and gentle, thought-provoking lessons. Although Jan Karon's Mitford series still holds first place in my favorite book list, Delia Parr will now join this illustrious group of favorite authors. I don't want to give away a spoiler, but it was a relief and surprise to finally learn who the legal owner of Hill House was in this book. Also look for a new twist in Widow Garrett's relationship with her lawyer, Mr. Breckenwith. All in all, Refining Emma is a sweet story.