Saturday, September 30, 2023

Book Review: The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky

Two women—a century apart—embark on a journey to healing, faith, forgiveness, and romance.

In 2012, art historian Gwen Morris travels to England's Lake District to appraise the paintings and antiques of an old family friend, hoping to prove herself to her prestigious grandfather. While at Longdale Manor, she meets David Bradford--the owner's handsome grandson--who is desperate to save the crumbling estate by turning it into a luxury hotel. When Gwen stumbles upon a one-hundred-year-old journal and an intricately carved shepherd's staff similar to one in a photo of her parents, she's left searching for answers.

In 1912, after her father's death, Charlotte Harper uncovers a painful family secret she can only confess to her journal. She and her family travel to the Lake District to stay on a sheep farm, hoping eventually to find a home with Charlotte's grandfather at Longdale Manor, but old wounds and bitter regrets make it a difficult challenge. As Charlotte grows closer to shepherd Ian Storey and rebuilds her shattered faith, she must decide whether she will ever trust in love again.

Carrie Turansky is a successful author in the world of Christian publishing, but The Legacy of Longdale Manor is my first exposure to her work. Fans of the writings of Julie Klassen, Erica Vetsch and Katherine Reay will find a similar approach to historical fiction through the lens of a Christian worldview. Turansky presents characters who are likable, yet flawed. They are damaged, but not beyond repair. Like myself and many with whom I am acquainted, they face disappointments, loss, and are sometimes hurt by those around them. The Legacy of Longdale Manor is a dual-timeline novel, but the themes of love, forgiveness and reconciliation echo back and forth across the century in which it inhabits. 

In the early 20th century, a Christian family faces the type of scandal which is still occurring today. The Harpers endure the loss of the family patriarch, and a secret sin is revealed. This husband, father and preacher was more flawed than they had ever imagined. How does one reconcile the hypocrisy of a Christian leader with their successful ministry and love of family? How does a now fatherless and husbandless family move on, with almost no resources to survive? As the main focus of this narrative thread, daughter Charlotte must navigate the tumultuous waters of grief, disappointment and betrayal. Her journey leads her through lessons of faith which teach her about forgiveness, healing and trusting. The issue of trust becomes most apparent as she begins to know shepherd Ian Storey. He seems like a kind, trustworthy young man, but certain issues bring doubt to Charlotte’s mind. She must not only learn to forgive her late father, but she must also come to trust in others again. The words of a local minister summarize a major theme of The Legacy of Longdale Manor:

“Jesus lays this choice before us. We can give our burdens and troubles into His care and live each day with the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts. Or we can hold on to the pain and wrongs done to us and harbor a troubled heart that hardens and grows bitter over time, stealing our joy and draining our days of the full life He wants us to enjoy.” (p. 152)

Like Charlotte Harper, another young woman struggles with similar issues in Turansky’s tale. In the novel’s alternate timeline, Gwen Morris of the 21st century has also faced pain, disappointment and family secrets. In 2012 she finds herself at Longdale Manor, trying to rebuild her damaged career while also wrestling with difficult family issues. She becomes friends with her Longdale clients, and as they work together to maintain and stimulate the legacy of this large estate, secrets are unearthed. Like Charlotte, Gwen is given the opportunity to grow in her faith through the exercise of forgiveness. While she might not struggle with the issue of trust as much as Charlotte, she does grow in that regard as well. The life lessons and matters of faith that both women address across the century are timeless and will continue to resonate throughout human history.

The Legacy of Longdale Manor was a delightful, light read, while at the same time addressing the difficult issues of Christian hypocrisy, disappointment and loss. The content does bring up adult matters, but the writing is squeaky-clean. If readers are looking for something with a bit of an “edge”, this is not the book for you. However, if you’d like a historical fiction title that is firmly set in the Christian worldview, with sweet romance and (mostly) happily-ever-afters, this might be a good match. As mentioned earlier, these characters are flawed. However, Longdale Manor is very family-friendly and has excellent messages for those who may be harboring bitterness or disappointment. The words of Charlotte Harper’s journal are good advice for us all:

“I’ve learned forgiveness is just as much for my benefit as it is for the other person. It’s like giving up my right to hurt someone back and letting God handle the justice of the situation as He thinks best.” (p.333)

Forgiveness does not excuse the hurt that was caused, nor does it erase the consequences of the wrong committed. It does lead to a process of healing, however. This theme is seen multiple times throughout The Legacy of Longdale Manor. Through that recovery, Carrie Turansky's characters not only find more peace in their hearts, but they are able to find sweet, romantic love as well. The Great Shepherd would be pleased with that restoration, as He is the author of love and healing itself.

About the Author

Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of twenty-one inspirational novels and novellas and a winner of the Carol Award, the International Digital Award, and the HOLT Medallion. She loves traveling to England to research her Edwardian novels, including No Journey Too Far, No Ocean Too Wide, Across the Blue, and the Edwardian Brides series. Her novels have been translated into several languages and have received starred reviews from and Library Journal. 

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | X (formerly Twitter)

Monday, September 18, 2023

Cover Reveal: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner

In recent years I’ve come to appreciate the work of novelist Natalie Jenner. Beginning with her 2020 novel
The Jane Austen Society and following with Bloomsbury Girls in 2022, she is proving to be a prolific and enjoyable writer of historical fiction. In May of next year her latest work will be published. Every Time We Say Goodbye includes characters and elements from the two previous novels, but it also will stand alone. As a returning reader, I’m excited about entering her world again, but it’s also encouraging to know that new readers can jump right in as well. Below I offer the newly-revealed cover art. However, before we get to that, here are some tantalizing details about this upcoming publication:

The bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls returns with a brilliant novel of love and art, of grief and memory, of confronting the past and facing the future.

In 1955, Vivien Lowry is at a crossroads in life. Her latest play, the only female-authored play on the London stage that season, has opened in the West End to rapturous applause from the audience. The reviewers, however, are not as impressed as the playgoers and their savage notices not only shut down the play but ruin Vivien's last chance for theatrical success. With her future in London not looking bright, at the suggestion of her friend, Peggy Guggenheim, Vivien takes a job as a script doctor on a major film shooting in Rome’s CinecittĂ  Studios. There she finds a vibrant moviemaking scene filled with rising stars, acclaimed directors, and famous actors in a country that is torn between its past and its potentially bright future, between the liberation of the post-war cinema and the restrictions of the Catholic Church that permeate the very soul of Italy.

As Vivien tries to forge a new future for herself, she also searches for the long-buried truth of the recent World War and the fate of her deceased fiancé lost in battle. Every Time We Say Goodbye is a bold and moving exploration of trauma and tragedy, hope and renewal, filled with dazzling characters both real and imaginary, from the incomparable author who charmed the world with her novels The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls.


  • “I’m in awe of Natalie Jenner’s new novel, which surprised me at every turn. At times it reads like the juiciest historical tell all, boasting cameos by enduring household names like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollabrigida, and featuring a party where Ava Gardner dances on the table. But most importantly, this is a story about damaged people who are still blinking into the light after the nightmare of the Second World War. This beautiful book balances and explores the most heroic aspects of humanity, and by extension the most evil. Every Time We Say Goodbye is a heartbreaking, engrossing, and thoroughly dazzling work of art that would make the filmmakers at the center of its story proud.” —Nina de Gramont, New York Times and #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Christie Affair

  • “Every Time We Say Goodbye welcomes back beloved characters from Jenner’s previous novels along with a new fascinating cast in Italy for the production of post-war films. Well-researched and written in a perfect blend of harrowing and heartwarming, this is another fabulous Natalie Jenner novel that historical fiction fans will adore!” —Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Bookshop in London and The Librarian Spy

  • “In her latest novel, Every Time We Say Goodbye, Natalie Jenner deftly weaves in elegant prose, the lives of the incredibly unique characters working to create a controversial war film at the Cinecitta in Italy, and the effects they have on each other and society. An emotionally poignant tale, that explores the human condition before, during and after war, and how those experiences change some while others remain unapologetically stuck. Ultimately, readers will find themselves swept along on a vivid journey through 1950s Italy, wading through the pains of the characters’ pasts and the sacrifices they made, in order to find a way to their hopeful future. Every once in a while, a story comes along that really grips you and inspires you to contemplate the choices we’re all given, and Jenner has done that here. An absolute page-turner, I couldn’t put this captivating book down.” —Eliza Knight, USA Today bestselling author of The Mayfair Bookshop and Starring Adele Astaire


Hello Dear Readers,

Every Time We Say Goodbye was the hardest book I will ever write, and the most rewarding.

It all started when I learned about the world-famous CinecittĂ  movie studio in Rome being used as a war refugee camp in the 1940s. People who had been stripped of everything—homes, possessions, even their most basic humanity—suddenly found themselves confined to life inside a “dream factory.” I decided to set my third novel during a very specific, very cool time in history—la dolce vita of mid 1950s Rome—while exploring the incredibly complex and haunting legacy of that city under German occupation during the Second World War.

I also wanted to know why Vivien Lowry, a character from my book Bloomsbury Girls, had been so angry all the time! I wondered if a woman could make the biggest mistake of her life and move past the regret in a way that benefitted her and the world around her. I never intended to write a dual timeline. I had been working on Every Time We Say Goodbye for nearly a year when the voice of a young female Italian resistance fighter codenamed la scolaretta—the schoolgirl assassin—suddenly showed up on the page one day. Having witnessed the bravery and sacrifice of so many to keep us safe during our world’s most recent challenge, I wanted to pay tribute to them. How fortunate am I, through the intimate and emotional power of historical fiction, to have the opportunity to do so.

I packed everything I could into this book: love and conflict, faith and religion, censorship and resistance, art and moviemaking, fashion and food, and cameos by favorite actresses such as Sophia Loren and Ava Gardner and characters from both The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls (I, myself am terrible at goodbyes!).

I hope, more than anything, that Every Time We Say Goodbye gives readers the entertainment, inspiration and food for thought that nourished me throughout its writing.

Best wishes, 


Cover Reveal: Every Time We Say Goodbye

Publication Date: May 14, 2024


Natalie Jenner
is the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls, which have been translated into more than twenty languages worldwide. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer and career coach and once owned an independent bookstore in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs.



Related Posts with Thumbnails