The Writing Desk (2017) is a stand-alone novel written by Rachael Hauck. This book will release on July 11, 2017, and will come in all forms including eBook. The book is roughly 350 pages in length. With a full-time job and a five-year old at home, this book took me two days to read. I received a copy of this eBook from Zondervan Publishing through NetGalley; all opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this stunning novel 5 STARS. This is a Contemporary Christian Romance AND Christian Historical Romance all in the same book.
Here is the GoodReads blurb:
Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration? With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.
A century earlier, another woman wrote with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, and make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.
Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.
This novel is a beautiful, multifaceted story. Ms. Hauck tells this story through four narrators: Tenley and Jonas from our contemporary time, and Birdie and Eli from the American Gilded Age (c. 1877-early 1900s). I do worry when an author uses this strategy because it tends to take me out of the main story and can have a soap-oprah/telanovela feel, but the use of four narrators in this book is perfect.
My favorite story line is Birdie and Eli’s. Their story is, at times, exceptionally heartbreaking. I can tell that Ms. Hauck did a lot of research for this book; her attention to detail is exquisite. Birdie comes from old money. Her family is incredibly wealthy and are esteemed members of high society. The reader is treated to stunning scenes of decadent parties and gorgeous dresses, handsome men in fantastic tuxedos and romantic dances. Birdie’s moments in this book are so well written I felt like I was at the parties with her.
Ms. Hauck knows how to write heart-wrenching scenes. Some of Birdie’s moments in this novel took my breath away. Which leads to Eli. Eli, an Englishman, is next in line to be the Marquess of Ainsworth. He and Birdie met in 1898 when Birdie’s family was on a Grand European tour. They fell in love, but nothing could happen. She was off to Wellesley and he was off to fight for Queen and country in the Boer Wars. They meet again in 1902, feelings for one another have not dwindled, but he is in America searching for a wealthy heiress to wed to save his homelands in England, which are falling into great debt. In an attempt to NOT spoil the plot, I cannot explain why the heiress can’t be Birdie — suffice it to say it just cannot be! There is happiness in store for Birdie and Eli, it just takes a while to get there.
Tenley and Jonas are couple number 2. Jonas is a great character. He is very well-written and very realistic. He is a good, God-fearing, family-oriented guy. He had an excruciatingly terrible thing happen to him, and at the start of this book, which is two years after the bad thing happened, he is still not ready to take his heart out of its safe house. Then he meets Tenely, and his life gets turned upside down. Tenley is a rich author who is celebrating her first book, which became an immediate success. Tenley has issues with this: did her book become popular because it is good, or because she is related to two well-known and beloved authors? This doubt causes her a severe bout of writer’s block, and she can’t seem to get a second book going. At the same time, her estranged mother is diagnosed with cancer and needs Tenely’s help. Going to her mother’s — the mother who abandoned her twenty years ago — dramatically changes Tenley’s life. Tenely learns many things including who her mother is, who she is, and who God is. The best part of the book is that everything Tenely goes through feels so authentic. Her struggles with doubt and depression, her questioning who she is, her quasi-anger at her mother, and her questioning God are all genuine. Nothing in this book feels formulaic. I think I truly appreciated this aspect the most. I could really relate to Tenley and what she goes through as a woman, daughter, girlfriend, career girl, etc.
I read a couple of reviews online for this novel and saw that a few mention that this novel has a thin-line of God in it. I am quite shocked by that, and wonder if maybe I read a different book than those reviewers did. God is all over this book. Just because Ms. Hauck isn’t hitting the reader over the head with Bible verses and sermons every five pages doesn’t mean He isn’t there. In fact, one of the coolest parts of this book is that Tenley and Birdie share a Voice. Both women supernaturally hear the Voice of God whenever they are stressed, hurting, or confused. It’s beautiful. When they feel at their lowest or are scared, the Voice sings to them and comforts them with the BEST words: “Do not be dismayed, do not be dismayed, you don’t have to worry or be afraid.” I am honestly trying not to cry while I type this; it’s one of the most poignant pieces throughout the novel. I think I highlighted it in my book each time! It is a great reminder. When I am at my lowest, I need to stop and listen for the Voice of my Lord and Savior so He can pull me out of my dark places.
This novel is excellent. It is well-researched, beautifully written, and quite touching. It’s one of those novels that will stick with me long after I have finished reading. I am grateful to Zondervan Publishing for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing this fantastic book. If you are looking for a unique Christian Contemporary Romance that is also a Christian Historical novel, then I cannot recommend this book enough. It is a truly fantastic book. Just make sure to have some tissue nearby for the really touching scenes. You will probably need it!