A Sound Among the Trees: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

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A Sound Among the Trees: A Novel

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Overview

A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.    

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A woman marries into a Southern family with a dark past in this mystery about love and loss. Marielle Bishop meets her future husband, Carson, online and moves to the steamy Virginia hills from her home in the arid Phoenix desert. She soon learns that the family’s stately mansion, Holly Oak, houses more than just her new family. Ever since the Civil War, the Bishop family has been afflicted with hardship and strife—with many locals blaming their troubles on the estate’s alleged haunting. Suspicious herself, Marielle decides to investigate Susannah Page—the family’s former matriarch and spy during the Civil War—to figure out why her spirit refuses to leave the property. Meissner (The Shape of Mercy) delivers a delightful page-turner that will surely enthrall readers from beginning to end. The antebellum details, lively characters, and overlapping dramas particularly will excite history buffs and romance fans. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Praise for A Sound Among the Trees

"Meissner delivers a delightful page-turner that will surely enthrall readers from beginning to end. The antebellum details, lively characters, and overlapping dramas particularly will excite history buffs and romance fans." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“In A Sound Among the Trees, author Meissner transports readers to another time and place to weave her lyrical tale of love, loss, forgiveness, and letting go. Her beautifully drawn characters are flawed yet likable, their courage and resilience echoing in the halls of Holly Oak for generations. A surprising conclusion and startling redemption make this book a page-turner, but the setting—the beautiful old Holly Oak and all of its ghosts—is what will seep into the reader’s bones, making A Sound Among the Trees a book you don’t want to put down.’
—Karen White, New York Times best-selling author of The Beach Trees

“My eyes welled up more than once! And I thought it especially fitting that, having already shown us the shape of mercy in a previous novel, Susan Meissner is now showing us the many shapes of love. A Sound Among the Trees is a hauntingly lyrical book that will make you believe a house can indeed have a memory…and maybe a heart. A beautiful story of love, loss, and sacrifice, and of the bonds that connect us through time.”
—Susanna Kearsley, New York Times best-selling author of The Winter Sea

“I have a dozen things to do (like sleep!), but here I huddle through the night, turning pages, mesmerized by yet another Susan Meissner novel. How does Susan create characters that stay with me long after I close the book? How does she transport a reader so easily to a mansion in the South, in this century, bringing one family’s challenge of the Civil War to speak to contemporary times? How does she address the emotions and memories that hold us hostage with such grace? How do her turns of phrase bring tears unbidden to my eyes? I keep reading, knowing I’ll discover a fascinating story and hoping I’ll infuse some of the skill and craft that Susan weaves to make it. A Sound Among the Trees is one more exceptional novel from a world-class storyteller. Jodi Picoult, make room at the top.”
—Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of The Daughter’s Walk

A Sound Among the Trees is another Meissner masterpiece filled with well-shaped characters, a compelling plot, and haunting questions: are our memories reliable enough to grow us, or do we cling to them as an excuse not to live? Meissner stunned me as she skillfully grappled with those mysteries. I left the book resolved to live joyfully in the sacredness of today.”
—Mary DeMuth, author of The Muir House

Library Journal
Adelaide is the matriarch of Holly Oak, an antebellum mansion said to be haunted by the ghost of her great-grandmother, Susannah Page. But Adelaide believes that it is not Susannah but the house that has brought nothing but loss to her, including a daughter addicted to drugs and the death of a granddaughter. When Carson, the granddaughter's widower, remarries a young woman from the West, Adelaide has nothing but contempt for the new bride. But Marielle soon gets caught up in the mystery of Holly Oak. VERDICT Meissner (The Shape of Mercy) shifts between the past and present with some success, although the switching of time periods can be confusing. Rich dialog and the hint of long-buried secrets help move the story. This might be enjoyed by fans of Michael Phillips, whose novels also focus on family secrets.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307458865
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 227,547
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Award-winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

      The bride stood in a circle of Virginia sunlight, her narrow heels clicking on Holly Oak’s patio stones as she greeted strangers in the receiving line. Her wedding dress was a simple A-line, strapless, with a gauzy skirt of white that breezed about her knees like lacy curtains at an open window. She had pulled her unveiled brunette curls into a loose arrangement dotted with tiny flowers that she’d kept alive on her flight from Phoenix. Her only jewelry was a white topaz pendant at her throat and the band of platinum on her left ring finger. Tall, slender, and tanned from the famed and relentless Arizona sun, hers was a girl-nextdoor look: pretty but not quite beautiful. Adelaide thought it odd that Marielle held no bouquet.
      From the parlor window Adelaide watched as her grandson-in-law, resplendent in a black tuxedo next to his bride, bent toward the guests and greeted them by name, saying, “This is Marielle.” An explanation seemed ready to spring from his lips each time he shook the hand of someone who had known Sara, her deceased granddaughter. His first wife. Carson stood inches from Marielle, touching her elbow every so often, perhaps to assure himself that after four years a widower he had indeed patently and finally moved on from grief.
      Smatterings of conversations wafted about on the May breeze and into the parlor as received guests strolled toward trays of sweet tea and champagne. Adelaide heard snippets from her place at the window. Hudson and Brette, her great-grandchildren, had moved away from the snaking line of gray suits and pastel dresses within minutes of the first guests’ arrival and were now studying the flower-festooned gift table under the window ledge, touching the bows, fingering the silvery white wrappings. Above the children, an old oak’s youngest branches shimmied to the tunes a string quartet produced from the gazebo beyond the receiving line.
      Adelaide raised a teacup to her lips and sipped the last of its contents, allowing the lemony warmth to linger at the back of her throat. She had spent the better part of the morning readying the garden for Carson and Marielle’s wedding reception, plucking spent geranium blossoms, ordering the catering staff about, and straightening the rented linen tablecloths. She needed to join the party now that it had begun. The Blue-Haired Old Ladies would be wondering where she was.
      Her friends had been the first to arrive, coming through the garden gate on the south side of the house at five minutes before the hour. She’d watched as Carson introduced them to Marielle, witnessed how they cocked their necks in blue-headed unison to sweetly scrutinize her grandson-in-law’s new wife, and heard their welcoming remarks through the open window.
      Deloris gushed about how lovely Marielle’s wedding dress was and what, pray tell, was the name of that divine purple flower she had in her hair?
      Pearl invited Marielle to her bridge club next Tuesday afternoon and asked her if she believed in ghosts.
      Maxine asked her how Carson and she had met—though Adelaide had told her weeks ago that Carson met Marielle on the Internet—and why on earth Arizona didn’t like daylight-saving time.
      Marielle had smiled, sweet and knowing—like the kindergarten teacher who finds the bluntness of five-year-olds endearing—and answered the many questions.
      Mojave asters. She didn’t know how to play bridge. She’d never encountered a ghost so she couldn’t really say but most likely not. She and Carson met online. There’s no need to save what one has an abundance of. Carson had cupped her elbow in his hand, and his thumb caressed the inside of her arm while she spoke.
      Adelaide swiftly set the cup down on the table by the window, whisking away the remembered tenderness of that same caress on Sara’s arm. 
      Carson had every right to remarry.
      Sara had been dead for four years.
      She turned from the bridal tableau outside and inhaled deeply the gardenia-scented air in the parlor. Unbidden thoughts of her granddaughter sitting with her in that very room gently nudged her. Sara at six cutting out paper dolls. Memorizing multiplication tables at age eight. Sewing brass buttons onto gray wool coats at eleven. Sara reciting a poem for English Lit at sixteen, comparing college acceptance letters at eighteen, sharing a chance letter from her estranged mother at nineteen, showing Adelaide her engagement ring at twenty-four. Coming back home to Holly Oak with Carson when Hudson was born. Nursing Brette in that armchair by the fireplace. Leaning against the door frame and telling Adelaide that she was expecting her third child.
      Right there Sara had done those things while Adelaide sat at the long table in the center of the room, empty now but usually awash in yards of stiff Confederate gray, glistening gold braid, and tiny piles of brass buttons—the shining elements of officer reenactment uniforms before they see war.
      Adelaide ran her fingers along the table’s polished surface, the warm wood as old as the house itself. Carson had come to her just a few months ago while she sat at that table piecing together a sharpshooter’s forest green jacket. He had taken a chair across from her as Adelaide pinned a collar, and he’d said he needed to tell her something. 
      He’d met someone.
      When she’d said nothing, he added, “It’s been four years, Adelaide.”
      “I know how long it’s been.” The pins made a tiny plucking sound as their pointed ends pricked the fabric.
      “She lives in Phoenix.”
      “You’ve never been to Phoenix.”
      “Mimi.” He said the name Sara had given her gently, as a father might. A tender reprimand. He waited until she looked up at him. “I don’t think Sara would want me to live the rest of my life alone. I really don’t. And I don’t think she would want Hudson and Brette not to have a mother.”
      “Those children have a mother.”
      “You know what I mean. They need to be mothered. I’m gone all day at work. I only have the weekends with them. And you won’t always be here. You’re a wonderful great-grandmother, but they need someone to mother them, Mimi.”
      She pulled the pin cushion closer to her and swallowed. “I know they do.”
      He leaned forward in his chair. “And I…I miss having someone to share my life with. I miss the companionship. I miss being in love. I miss having someone love me.”
      Adelaide smoothed the pieces of the collar. “So. You are in love?”
      He had taken a moment to answer. “Yes. I think I am.”
      Carson hadn’t brought anyone home to the house, and he hadn’t been on any dates. But he had lately spent many nights after the children were in bed in his study—the old drawing room—with the door closed. When she’d pass by, Adelaide would hear the low bass notes of his voice as he spoke softly into his phone. She knew that gentle sound. She had heard it before, years ago when Sara and Carson would sit in the study and talk about their day. His voice, deep and resonant. Hers, soft and melodic. 
      “Are you going to marry her?”
      Carson had laughed. “Don’t you even want to know her name?”
      She had not cared at that moment about a name. The specter of being alone in Holly Oak shoved itself forward in her mind. If he remarried, he’d likely move out and take the children with him. “Are you taking the children? Are you leaving Holly Oak?”
      “Adelaide—”
      “Will you be leaving?”
      Several seconds of silence had hung suspended between them. Carson and Sara had moved into Holly Oak ten years earlier to care for Adelaide after heart surgery and had simply stayed. Ownership of Holly Oak had been Sara’s birthright and was now Hudson and Brette’s future inheritance. Carson stayed on after Sara died because, in her grief, Adelaide asked him to, and in his grief, Carson said yes.
      “Will you be leaving?” she asked again.
      “Would you want me to leave?” He sounded unsure.
      “You would stay?”
      Carson had sat back in his chair. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to take Hudson and Brette out of the only home they’ve known. They’ve already had to deal with more than any kid should.”
      “So you would marry this woman and bring her here. To this house.”
      Carson had hesitated only a moment. “Yes.”
      She knew without asking that they were not talking solely about the effects moving would have on a ten-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. They were talking about the strange biology of their grief. Sara had been taken from them both, and Holly Oak nurtured their common sorrow in the most kind and savage of ways. Happy memories were one way of keeping someone attached to a house and its people. Grief was the other. Surely Carson knew this. An inner nudging prompted her to consider asking him what his new bride would want.
      “What is her name?” she asked instead.
      And he answered, “Marielle…”
      

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 60 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 60 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An enchanting read

    Masterfully drawn by great word artist Susan Meissner, A Sound Among the Trees is an intriguing and complex story, delving into relationships and traditions. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey as Marielle, while trying to unravel the mystery of Holly Oak, learned rumors can become tradition and believed as truth. Novel Journey and I give A Sound Among the Trees a high recommendation. An enchanting summer read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    I loved this book, my first by author Susan Meissner. I must adm

    I loved this book, my first by author Susan Meissner. I must admit that at first I couldn't get into the story. Adelaide and her musings about hauntings and such made me think the book was going to be different than it turned out to be. I'm so glad I persevered until Adelaide, Marielle, Caroline and Susannah pulled at my heartstrings.
    This book has so many messages to carry. It speaks of young love, first love, redeeming love, unfailing love, saving love. It also speaks of memories, and truth, and how one can color the other. Memories can be faulty, colored by emotion or generations of hearsay.
    I don't want to say more about the story than what you can read in the synopsis, but I urge you to read this book. I loved the peek into the Civil War as well, and from a different perspective than usual.

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  • Posted March 5, 2013

    This book is a beautiful example of excellent writing and great

    This book is a beautiful example of excellent writing and great storyline. Set in the new South, remembering the old South, it is a book to capture interest and spellbind you for hours.

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  • Posted March 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book was heart breaking and captivating. Susan Meissner has

    This book was heart breaking and captivating. Susan Meissner has a way of drawing out your emotions and making you feel the regret and loss of her characters. I can't think of another author that places me so firmly in the choices and lives of the characters as to feel like I am suffering the same.

    This book is not a beach read, it is for someone who really wants to get deep into both the past and present. I will probably still be thinking about this story tomorrow and the next as I contemplate the choices made and how they are mirrored in my own life.

    Note: After reading some other reviews where the "ghost" element was questioned, stating that in the Bible Saul was rebuked for speaking to ghost, I will give this allowance. At first, I agreed with this. I was confused at the tale of ghosts and why they were used. Once I had finished it however, I saw that the point was to let our ghosts (our skeletons in the closest) die. I do not want to give anything away but ask that you read to the end before making a decision about the author's and publisher's reasons for publishing this book.

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  • Posted February 8, 2013

    A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner As a young bride, Su

    A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

    As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn't believe that Susannah's ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather that the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

    When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband's home, she is soon led to believe that the house she's just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

    With Adelaide's richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak---and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

    I thought this to be a fairly intriguing read. One that kept me interested from beginning to end and scarcely had any boring parts. It was well written and the imagery quite colorful. I could very nearly imagine myself there at Holly Oak, in the parlor or the garden. The author had a nice way of describing the scenery.

    The part I liked the best and found myself most swept up in was the letters Susannah wrote to her cousin. It was most intriguing learning of her life and the struggles she, her aunt, mother and grandmother faced amidst the terrors of war. All in all it was an enjoyable read, though it was supposed to be a Christian book yet it scarcely even mentioned God or brought out that the Characters were Christians and even had some language in it. But still a very interesting book and one that I would recommend to others.

    I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review.

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  • Posted January 30, 2013

    I have a love hate relationship with this book. I kept waiting f

    I have a love hate relationship with this book. I kept waiting for it to get good. After a while, it finally did. The problem is, it took way too long.

    It started off with a wedding reception thrown for Marielle and Carson in the garden at Holly Oak. Carson is not actually blood family, he was married to Adelaide's late granddaughter. Oddly enough, Marielle agrees to live at Holly Oak, with her new husband, in his first wife's family home. Right out of the gate, she is warned of ghosts and curses. The more she's in the house, the more she starts to question things and sets out to see if there is indeed, anything to worry about.

    Adelaide was my favorite. She is pushing ninety years old and has lived her entire life at Holly Oak. I love, love, loved her personality. She's a real straight shooter. She doesn't hold back. I love the bits of sarcasm she puts out. I can almost see the expression on her face and the look in her eyes. Her great-grandmother, Susannah, is the ghost supposedly haunting Holly Oak. It was rumored that she helped Union soldiers during the war between the states and because she is so unsettled by being a traitor to the Confederacy, she stays at Holly Oak unable to find peace and gives her misery to every woman who lives there. And oh boy, did the women of Holly Oak have it rough. So much loss in that house. The question is, is it a ghost, a curse, the house, or something else entirely that's at the root of it all?

    The answer to that question is in the letters written by Susannah to her cousin during the war. This is where the book got really good for me. I honestly could have done without all the other stuff and read an entire book of just the letters. They really take you back to a time of war and destruction. The horror the women faced while the men were away, the pain, the choices they we forced to make, all of it. When it was over, I found myself looking at pictures of Fredericksburg just to get a visual of the town they lived in. I can just imagine it. Reading the letters, I can see the blood, I can see the destruction, I can see the fear. That's what I loved about this book.

    Did I like the book? Yes

    Did I love the book? No

    Would I recommend the book? Yes

    Overall Rating: Good

    Favorite Quote: "Happiness is not something we go back to get. We pursue it. It's ahead of us, not back in time." Will

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    Kept me interested.

    Great storytelling.

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  • Posted January 14, 2013

    I enjoyed this book immensely since I am kind of a Civil War buf

    I enjoyed this book immensely since I am kind of a Civil War buff. The female characters were well developed even if they were not here half the book. The house I could see with my minds eye and was gorgeously described, cannonball and all. The twist at the end will leave you reading until the complete end. It is an amazing book that will leave you spellbound.

    I recommend this book to Historical fiction lovers and Young women mainly, men I suppose could read it but it is kind of girly.


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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    THERE CAN BE MORE THAN ONE TYPE OF GHOST IN A HOUSE....

    When Marielle married Carson, she knew he had been married before. For the sake of his children, she agreed to live in his first wife's family home with Sara's aging grandmother. She knew she might have to contend with Carson's memories of Sara, but she never dreamed she might be dealing with a Civil War-era ghost.
    Susan Meissner's novel is a gripping read, especially for anyone interested in the Civil War. The chapters dealing with Susannah and her involvement with both the Union and the Confederate soldiers really held my interest. Her historic details were correct, which adds realism to the story. Also, for anyone who has ever felt that they were overwhelmed by the "ghosts" of past relationships, this is a must read.

    5 stars

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    A story that keeps you reading for hours. I love a story that g

    A story that keeps you reading for hours. I love a story that grips you and holds you.
    Yet an ending not expected. A healing, a release or a new look at life however you want to see it.
    A history of a family during the Civil War weaved around a house. How life choices sometimes are made for reasons not expected. Yet good can come out of it. As the story of Susannah and her marriage to Lt. Page unfold, strenth and weaknessed shape her.
    A story of ghosts, mental illness, war, love and survival.
    To quote from the readers guide, "A ghost story without a ghost." Sometimes a person gets stuck in life and doesn't see the truth.

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  • Posted August 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner is a story about a his

    A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner is a story about a historic house and the family that has lived there for generations. The women of Holly Oak feel as if they've been cursed by the actions of it's past tenets. Susannah Page is believed to have been a Civil War spy for the North. Everyone thinks she haunts the house.

    Marielle is the newest women to enter into the mix. She recently married Susannah's great-granddaughter Adelaide's grandson-inlaw Carson. Carson's first wife was Adelaide's granddaughter. But he still lives in the house at Holly Oak for the sake of the two children. It's their only memory they still have of their mother Sara.

    This is a historic fiction novel. It has southern charm. It has mystery. It has emotion. All of which I enjoyed.

    Until I got to page 200. You can read (as Marielle is reading) all of Susannah Page's letters to her cousin. All 100 pages of them. Now this may, or may not, hinder your interest. I wasn't all that thrilled to read 100 pages of Susannah Page's daily activities. The purpose of the letters was to set the record straight as to what happened at Holly Oak and all this cursed business. But I'd have rather read five to ten pages of her letters.

    So I was all in at the beginning. The pace lost me in the middle. And then the book came to a moderate end. The characters and writing are good. I guess, I was just looking for more of a mystery/thriller. But it's geared more toward a light-heated religious theme.

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  • Posted July 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The young bride that moves into her husband's first wife home is

    The young bride that moves into her husband's first wife home is first scared that there a ghost in the house. She not understand what it was doing to the people inside the home or what the people inside the house was doing to the family.

    A mystery unfolds itself though Marielle. Caroline come home to help explain what was going on and what was happening Carson and her mother. Her mother does not know what going but think the house is stuck. Things start to clear up about Susannah Page in letters when Caroline less her in on what the truth is and what is happening.

    I do not want to give away how it ends or any of the secret the books has to offer. Though I will tell you it tell you about the part of the Civil War and the Battle of Fredericksburg. It tell about romance and in love. But I will let you decide If you want to pick it up and want to read. Just because I like to read about Civil War a bit does not mean you would not to so you may decide that you want so I will let you decide for yourself. Now if I were asked I recommend this book for sure.

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  • Posted July 21, 2012

    I was given the opportunity to review the book A Sound Among the

    I was given the opportunity to review the book A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner, however all opinions are my own.

    The back of the book states "A House Shrouded in Time. A Line of Women With a Heritage of Loss.". The story is about an old house that was in the same family for generations. There is also a lot of history involved as well. One of the previous ancestors was said to be a civil war spy. In being such, she was a traitor to her Virginian home. The Matriarch and her son in law, Carson, live in the house with his 2 children. There is a rumor that the house is haunted, but when Carson's new wife, Marielle, moves in she is determined to find out the truth. She soon learns that there is more to the story when she finds a journal, and a long lost relative returns with hidden information.

    Marielle makes friends with her new surroundings, but can not quite make peace with them. Then through her new friend she finds some interesting paperwork. I could not put the book down until I read all of the paperwork. It was a really good book and was hard to put down. It was also historical, and had a very interesting love story as .
    I also enjoyed seeing the generations of women and how the heritage affected them.

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  • Posted April 10, 2012

    First of all, let me say that this novel is not the type of book

    First of all, let me say that this novel is not the type of book I normally read....I am somewhat of a wuss and even the thought of ghosts or haunted houses creeps me out enough that I want to hide under my covers and turn the TV on so loud that it would surely wake the neighbors.
    However! I was quite pleased with Susan Meissner's *A Sound Among the Trees* and found myself not wanting to put it down!

    Ever since I was a young girl, I have always had a slight fascination with the Civil War due to my father's extreme obsession with it. At one point, I had considered paying for him to fly out to Oregon where they have an annual paintball tournament reenacting the war....it would have been the gift to top all gifts! However, I was a broke college kid at the time and couldn't conjure up the money for this fabulous idea. Boo.
    To answer your question as to what this has to do with this book, *A Sound Among the Trees* is a story that leaps through time and allows the reader to live through the eyes of different women living in a house that survived the tragic Civil War and the love that was lost and the trials that are faced even in present time.
    I fell in love with Adelaide, the matriarch of Holly Oak (the house in question) and felt like she would be someone I would like to have tea with in her southern home as she spoke in her rich accent and told stories of southern life 'back in the day.' Yes, Adelaide was my favorite character but Meissner peppered the entire story with real like and lively characters that added to the enjoyment of the story.
    The story in general was pretty good and with great suspense and climax at times, even if it did seem to fall short occasionally throughout. All in all, with the entirety of the story, I was pleased and would actually enjoy looking into more of Meissner's writing.
    If you enjoy a story that has a historical element within it and good character development and suspense, I suggest you give this novel a try.
    I was glad I did.

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  • Posted January 31, 2012

    Entertaining Civil War story

    The story begins with Marielle who is recently married and settles into Holly Oaks with her new husband. Holly Oaks is not just any house... it's a Civil War mansion where her husband lived with his now deceased wife, Sarah. Adelaide, Sarah's grandmother still lives at Holly Oaks. Marielle quickly discovers that the women of Holly Oaks have suffered many misfortunes. It seems that the house may be haunted by the ghost of Susanna Page, who was rumored to be a Civil War spy, a traitor to her Virginian roots. When Marielle discovers hidden letters which were written during the Civil war, the mystery begins to unfold. About a third of the book consists of the letters written by young Susannah Page to her cousin in Maine. Being a fan of historical fiction, I couldn't put the book down once I got to this part. The letters paint a picture of life during the war and the sacrifices made by each side. Throughout the letters a beautiful love story grows. This is not a traditional love story. Instead it will surprise you with many unforeseen turns. I would have been completely satisfied to read an entire book full of these letters. I much preferred this section to the modern day beginning of the book. The stores, past and present, come together beautifully in the book's final chapters. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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  • Posted January 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Sound Among the Trees - A Must Read!

    Susannah Page is rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, labeled a traitor to Virginians and the South.
    In present day she is known as a ghost searching for redemption of her pas now haunting her home Holly Oak Mansion. Her great grandaughter does not believe Susannah is haunting the mansion. She actually believes it is the house that holds a grudge against the past and is taking it out on the women of Holly Oak Mansion.

    Now the mansion has a new resident Marielle Bishop and she soon learns about the haunting of the Holly Oak. She is not sure what to believe and tries to uncover the truth.

    I really got into all the history of Holly Oak Mansion and the residents of the mansion past and present.
    The damage the Civil War had on the Virginians and the fortitude of the South to rebuild their lives and their homes was heartbreaking knowing what they all went through. The hardship of the slaves in the face of their freedom and rebirth of life must have been exalting.

    How could anyone not feel as if their are ghost and hauntings after so many lives and homes were lost in that war.

    I highly recommend this book.

    I rate this book a 5 out of 5.

    Disclosure:
    I received a copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah/Blogging for Books. In no way was I compensated for this review it is my own opinion.

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  • Posted January 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Book Review: A Sound Among The Trees by Susan Meissner

    This beautifully lyric book travels seamlessly between the present day and the civil war era while telling the stories of the antebellum mansion Holly Oak and her inhabitants.

    First of all, I can’t get over how unbelievably lovely this novel was. I’m a big fan of writers who use tons of descriptives and imagery to make people and places come alive…and Susan Meissner does that wonderfully in A Sound Among the Trees. From the first page I felt as if I was there in that Sunlit Virginia garden and I couldn’t tear myself away.

    Sometimes a novel that flips back and forth between past and present can be hard to appreciate…one either gets lost somewhere in between or at best feels as if the continuity of the stories is compromised. That was not the case with this book. Holly Oak herself acts as an anchor between the two time periods…between the two stories and in essence…almost becomes one of the characters herself.

    As I was introduced to the inhabitants of the present and then slowly to the civil war era inhabitants I became deeply invested in all of their lives. I needed to know how the events of the past had transformed Holly Oak and how those events managed to still have such a strong hold over it’s current occupants. I needed to know if redemption could be found. I needed to know if it was actually even necessary in the first place. And most of all…. I needed to know…if the bogeyman was real.

    And I’ll let you in on a little something…the bogeyman…he is indeed quite real.

    And the best way to catch him out?

    Cast your gaze into a mirror…

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  • Posted January 19, 2012

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    I Recommend This Book

    The delicious brooding quality of Susan Meissner’s A Sound Among the Trees reminds me of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Marielle, like the narrator of Rebecca, is a new bride who comes to live in her predecessor’s ancient family home. And like Maximilian de Winter, Marielle’s husband Carson seems oblivious to the emotional toll she pays to live there in his dead wife’s shadow.

    Adelaide, Carson’s nearly ninety-year-old grandmother-in-law, although no Mrs. Danvers, is a bit cold and distant. She has suffered greatly. Her teenage daughter Caroline had run away to a life of drugs, alcohol and sex, returning only once to give her infant daughter into her care. And now that granddaughter is dead and Carson has brought Marielle to replace her. Adelaide believes that a “slow waltz of destiny” falls on “all women born to Holly Oak” to suffer and do penance for the sins of its earlier daughter Susannah, who allegedly betrayed her family and the Confederacy. Adelaide labors at sewing Confederate uniforms for modern day Civil War re-enactors. She says it’s because “some things are worth remembering” but it seems to be her personal penance too.
    The War Between the States continues to cast its shadow over Holly Oak. The house withstood the Battle of Fredericksburg, but still bears a war wound; a cannonball is lodged in its side. Adelaide’s friends, the “Blue-Haired Old Ladies, believe Susannah haunts Holly Oak. Adelaide believes it has a soul, like a “sentient being.” Indeed, Holly Oak, echoing with violent memories, is as much a character in the story as Manderley is in Rebecca.

    But when Adelaide’s prodigal daughter Caroline returns home, whole and healthy, having found redemption among ministering nuns, Adelaide and Marielle discover the truth about Holly Oak. It becomes, finally, what a house is meant to be, “a place of safety and refuge.”

    The e-book was provided to me by the Multnomah Group. I have given this my fair review.

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  • Posted January 13, 2012

    Couldn't put it down!!

    My Synopsis: Marielle is newly married to widower Carson Bishop. They decide together that it's best for Carson's children to stay in Holly Oak house in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his deceased wife's mother, Adelaide - and the house has been in Adelaide's family for several generations. Not too long after arriving at Holly Oak, Marielle is told that the house is haunted by Susannah Page - Adelaide's grandmother. It is believed that Susannah was a spy for the Union in Confederate territory during the War Between the States, and now she haunts the house seeking atonement for her sins. Marielle soon gets wrapped up in the ghost story. It isn't until she discovers Susannah's old letters to her cousin that Marielle learns the truth about her husband's first wife's great-great grandmother.
    --
    My Reaction: DIFFICULT TO PUT DOWN!!! I swear this is the fastest I have read through a book in the past year or more.
    At first, I was skeptical about this book based on other reviews of this book. Mostly because it was about a "haunted" house and it's Christian fiction - two things I never thought would mix. But the author, Susan Meissner, combined the two wonderfully! I loved how the Civil War story was woven through the first part of the book. Then, in Part Four, we get the complete story of the Civil War through the letters from Susannah written to her cousin, Eleanor in Maine. Most of the letters were never sent due to the mail not being delivered from Union to Confederate and vice-versa. The letters that were sent to Eleanor were later returned to Susannah after Eleanor's death to complete the story. They read more like a journal than letters.
    If you like Civil-War era novels, or just historical fiction, this might be the story for you. But most of this story centers around Marielle in modern times and her desire to know more about Holly Oak's ghost.

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  • Posted December 15, 2011

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    A Story of Loss

    Adelaide has lived at Holly Oak all her life, about 87 years. She raise her daughter Caroline there and also Caroline¿s daughter Sarah, when Sarah married Carson they lived with Adelaide also. Then Sarah died and after four years of mourning her loss Carson married Marielle; his new wife, lives at Holly Oak with not Adelaide but also Sarah and Carson¿s children, isn¿t that a difficult situation? Then to top it off it is said that Holly Oak is haunted by Susannah Paige¿s spirit, who was rumored to be a union spy during the civil war. What really happened with Susannah? What will happen with Marielle?

    At first I have to admit I was not so interested in the book, not until after the first 50 pages was I actually captivated by the story and its characters. The story was amazing yet tragic; the reader learns of Susannah Paige and what she suffered during her long tragic life, it is actually very emotional. The reader also learns about the other characters though and the events that take place in their lives, it really is a story of loss and pain. Still I think Meissner did an exceptional job bringing this type of story to life, I rate it 4.5 stars.

    Thanks Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book to review. All opinions expressed are mine entirely.

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