A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
A Belmont Mansion Novel, Book 1
Bethany House, 2011
Summary (from the back cover):
Claire Laurent’s greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she’s forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she’s sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville’s society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach–but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.
The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton’s home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family’s honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined–as well as the woman he loves.
Set at Nashville’s historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves–and each other–for who they really are.
“Just as hundreds of brushstrokes comprised a finished canvas, people were made up of a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad. And without knowing what someone had endured, it was impossible to truly know them- and accept them- for who they were” (384).
Why have I waited this long to read a Tamera Alexander book? I completely loved it and I can’t wait to get my hands on another one of her books! Ms. Alexander has a beautiful writing style that captured me. She is able to paint a picture with her beautiful words, just as the main character, Claire, paints pictures on canvas. Her writing is rich and layered, which made my reading experience truly enjoyable. From the setting, to the history, to the plot and characterization, Tamera Alexander has written a book that has lingered in my thoughts over the last few days.
Claire Laurent is desperately trying to leave the past behind. It is made up of bad memories and she wants to start fresh with her life. But her secret always seems to be lurking around the corner. Sutton Monroe has lost a lot in recent years, and the pain of it all threatens to make him bitter. But Claire breaths new life into his world. As Claire and Sutton get to know one another, will they be able to share a life together and move forward? Or will the past tear them apart?
This story shows that the past does not define you, nor should you let it. Rather, let God define who you are. The journey that Claire goes on in this book is one of redemption and forgiveness, as she learns from her mistakes and grows into a beautiful woman, both on the inside and the outside.
One last thing I wanted to discuss: Mrs. Adelicia Acklen. In one word, I would describe her as enigmatic. She intrigued me throughout the novel. She is a prominent woman who is confident and expects the best from the people around her. She is direct and honest, and never shies away from speaking her thoughts. Yet, she is also a loving woman who cares deeply for her children and loved ones. And as you discover the pain of her past, you symapthize with her and discover her heart. A beautiful character that I very much enjoyed reading about.
Rating: 5 stars
“We should not expect to have all the blessings of life and none of its trials. It would make this world too delightful a dwelling place, and I fear we would never care to leave it. As it is…I have come to believe that it’s only by taking some of those objects from us to which our hearts so closely cling that He endeavors…in His kindness, to draw us from this world to one of greater happiness” (297).