Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear…
Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.
Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.
While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.
Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?
If you have not been introduced to the writing of Heidi Chiavaroli, you are missing out! I first became acquainted with her when I read her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring. With her third release, The Edge of Mercy, Chiavaroli has established herself as a master of the Colonial/contemporary time-slip novel and one who fearlessly tackles delicate issues. As with her other books, you may want to have a box of tissues close at hand.
The story opens with Sarah Rodrigues losing her wedding bands as she stands upon Abram’s Rock, where she has gone to lament over her husband’s request for separation. The two have been married for 17 years and have a teenage son, Kyle. After reading the first chapter, I was hooked. Partly because I cannot imagine my husband of 15 years making the same request, but also because of the way Matt and Sarah’s marriage began. I wanted to believe they could pull through.
The historical timeline doesn’t begin until Chapter 9 when, in response to her neighbor’s dying wish, Sarah undertakes the work of transcribing Elizabeth Baker’s journal (1675). I found the legend of Abram’s Rock along with Elizabeth’s revelations about God and love to be exquisitely intertwined with Sarah and Matt’s journey towards reconciliation. This is not a love story in the traditional sense, but rather a rending and mending of hearts.
I was struck by a number of elements of this story. First, by how real and honest the author was with Sarah’s emotions and how that played out in the dialogue between characters. Premarital sex, the marriage bed, and infidelity were not off limits—though there’s nothing gratuitous in her writing. I liked how Chiavaroli indirectly demonstrates how belief in God is personal, and it’s not bequeathed to us by our parents or imparted to us by our spouses. Lastly, how being yoked to an unbeliever can make for a shifting foundation in marriage. For while early on Sarah ruminates “Matt never spoke of God, especially not to me. Faith—religion—was the one thing we simply couldn’t find common ground on. So we’d just stopped talking about it altogether. It worked for us.” By the end, her opinions have changed and her hope rests in God and in their new shared faith.
The Edge of Mercy is available for pre-order now and will officially release on April 9th, 2019.
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