About the Book
Book: Hope Between the Pages
Author: Pepper Basham
Genre: Christian Historical
Release date: April, 2021
Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
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About the Author
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
More from Pepper
Books are a uniquely portable magic – Stephen King
Appalachia is known for having a high illiteracy rate. A place of beautiful scenery and rugged landscapes, the people of the mountains developed stories through oral storytelling much more than “book learning”. As a young girl growing up in this world, I loved hearing my granny share tales from up to five generations ago, filling in the narrative gaps between a birth date and a death date on a tombstone – giving flesh and breath to the stone-etched names.
It’s no surprise then, with a heart cultivated from rich oral stories, I fell in love with reading. Books became that “portable magic” that took me places my little Appalachian community couldn’t provide. I fell in love with the Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew. Wept through the end of Bridge to Terabithia and Old Yeller. Traveled to the plains with Sarah Plain and Tall and fell in love with horses with The Black Stallion. But when I was in seventh grade, I read my very first “British” novel, The Secret Garden. In that one introduction, my world expanded into mysterious English manor houses and British classics. Before long, I’d consumed Jane Eyre, Austen’s classics, some Dickens, Dracula, Frankenstein…and the list goes on! And then…I found Tolkien and Lewis – and the ‘real’ world swelled into OTHER worlds.
I’m grateful for true stories of book-loving pioneers traveling into the world of Appalachia to provide books and literacy training to “my people”, because I know some of those books made their way to my tiny elementary school library…and not only brought me the chance to discover stories, but to write them too!
Isn’t it amazing how books can do that?
In Hope Between the Pages, I wanted to bring the same awe and discovery I felt as a child (and continue to feel as an adult reader) to the story of two people whose words had seemed small. Stories stretched their worlds, but the stories also gave them wonderful imaginations and positive perspectives. It’s still amazing to me that ink-and-paper words can make such a lasting impact on hearts and minds. They can lead us to dream, teach us new things, encourage our hearts, help us to think outside the box, swell our imaginations, broaden our horizons, and encourage our hope.
Books are not a replacement for real adventures and relationships, but they certainly provide a beautiful “door” into other lives and worlds that we may never have a chance to experience in real life. Sadie, my historical heroine, and Clara, my contemporary heroine, both have kept close to home but traveled greatly through books…and BOTH are given the opportunity to reach beyond the bindings to discover real-life adventures. I’d like to think that their love for stories helped them have the courage to step away from the page and into their own tales even more prepared than they would have been without stories.
What are some of your favorite books you read as a child? Did any of them influence you to become a more avid reader?
Historical fiction is my go-to genre, and in the interest of total honesty, romance and contemporaries are probably my least favorite most of the time. What can I say, I have never been normal! Split-time novels, therefore, are on the fence for me, and I have only dipped my toes into this genre, which makes me all the more glad for the opportunity to read Barbour’s Doors to the Past series. I was wholly unprepared for this book, though; it blew me out of the water and is by far the best I’ve read so far this year. Prior to this, I read the author’s contribution to the True Colors series, The Red Ribbon, and found it to be my favorite installment to date, so I now know without a doubt that I need to look into her other works, as well.
“Stories held power and everyone told one, whether the characters within the story knew it or not.”
There is so much to love about Pepper Basham’s Hope Between the Pages, from the complex characters to the swoon-worthy romance to the delightful appreciation for literature. Rarely have I felt so connected to the characters, and never in a dual-timeline story. In fact, some of the more tragic circumstances hit so close to home that I had to set it aside at times. I am glad that Clara Blackwell’s contemporary story is told alongside her ancestor Sadie Blackwell’s from 1915, because it provides a fascinating study of how our past impacts our present in ways that we may not realize. As much as I admire Sadie, I see more of myself in Clara, and it reminds me of Oliver Camden’s advice to his sister, Victoria: “It’s not often that you find kindred spirits, so when you do, you make certain to keep them if you can.” Indeed, this concept plays into the lives of all of the main characters. I love that Clara is a vintage type with a fondness for books and security, and that this does not make her a hopeless case: “Was there a place for mysteries, adventure, and even romance in her life? Could she release her hold on her fear long enough to try and find out? She drew in a deep breath and for the first time in a long time prayed that she’d be hopeful enough to search for everyday magic, and brave enough to step into her own story.”
Part of what makes this novel so enigmatic is the fact that the primary plot threads are relatively predictable, yet Hope Between the Pages still reads like suspense, and Basham is truly gifted in writing lyrical prose. The stories of both Sadie and Clara, separated by a century, dovetail perfectly, exploring similar tales of solitude, heartache, tragedy, romance, and even fairy tales because the Christian life is a mixture of all of these, but fulfilled to perfection. “No fairy tale in all the world painted love as beautifully as this. No novel touched my heart with such an odd combination of visceral weightiness and sheer joy. Only in the pages of scripture had I found anything so beautiful, showcasing what it meant to be so loved for exactly who I was,” Sadie marvels, and 100 years later, Clara echoes this sentiment. While this is not the immediate meaning of the title, which is disclosed at the end of the book, this is what it symbolized to me. The hope of being loved and accepted just as one is, whether lowborn or high, in vogue or quirky, and the steadfast promise that the Lord is the One who will always love us unconditionally, a promise and hope found between the pages of the book that never goes out of style, the Holy Bible.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.