Ascension of Larks

Ascension of Larks

by Rachel Linden


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“Winsome kids and family friends add depth and warmth to the well-developed cast of characters. Readers will eagerly await future offerings from this promising new author.”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Linden’s debut novel is a bittersweet tale of enduring friendship, family ties, and the complexities of love that will engage readers of thoughtful women’s fiction.”—Library Journal, STARRED review, Debut of the Month

When globetrotting photographer Magdalena Henry loses the only man she’s ever loved, she risks her stellar career to care for his widow and young children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Maggie adores her life of travel and adventure. But she has a secret. She can’t let go of her first and only love, renowned architect Marco Firelli, now married to her best friend Lena.

When Marco drowns in a kayaking accident, Maggie rushes to the Firelli family’s summer home on San Juan Island. Once there she discovers that Marco was hiding something that could destroy his family. As fragile, perfectionistic Lena slowly falls apart, Maggie tries to provide stability for Marco and Lena’s three young children.

When Maggie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in the world’s most prestigious photography competition, she thinks she’s found the answer to their problems. Then Lena makes a choice with unexpected and devastating consequences, forcing Maggie to grapple with an agonizing decision. Does she sacrifice the golden opportunity of her career or abandon the Firellis just when they need her the most?

Gradually the island begins to work its magic. A century-old ritual to beckon loved ones home offers hope in the midst of sorrow. And a guilt-ridden yet compelling stranger hiding on the island may offer Maggie a second chance at love, but only if she can relinquish the past and move forward to find joy in unexpected places.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718095734
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 06/20/2017
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 511,352
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures in over fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her writing. She is the author of Ascension of Larks, Becoming the Talbot Sisters, and The Enlightenment of Bees. Currently Rachel lives with her family in Seattle, Washington, where she enjoys creating stories about hope, courage, and connection with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy. Visit her online at; Instagram: rachellinden_writer; Facebook: authorRachellinden.

Read an Excerpt

Ascension of Larks

By Rachel Linden

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2017 Rachel Linden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7180-9574-1


"Come on, come on. I know you're here somewhere," Magdalena Henry murmured, squinting through the viewfinder of her camera at the ragged line of coffee pickers sorting their day's yield. Standing in the dust on a narrow dirt lane, she panned over the workers, looking for the perfect shot. Behind her, the late-afternoon sun spread light like butter, soft and golden, over the Nicaraguan landscape, across the high, dense, green mountains and ribbon of road winding back through the coffee fields. Birdcalls blended with the screeching of howler monkeys, creating a cacophony of sound in the treetops above.

Adjusting her 55mm camera lens, Maggie focused on a young girl in a grimy rainbow-print shirt as she worked through a large woven basket full of coffee cherries, separating the ripe red ones from the young, bitter green ones. Inside each cherry lay two small coffee beans. The girl looked up at Maggie and grinned, holding out a handful of red cherries. Her baby teeth were all rotten, a line of black against her gums.

Maggie caught her breath with the familiar thrill of recognition. Every so often the elements aligned and offered her a perfect shot. She paused for one split second, focusing intently on the girl amid the dust motes and shafts of sunlight. Then with speed and precision born of long practice, she pushed the shutter once, twice, again in quick succession. She glanced briefly at the digital image frozen on the screen. Beautiful. The colors were crisp and striking. The light was excellent. At least one of these shots should be good enough for the magazine cover.

Maggie was known for photos like these, intimate portrayals of daily life around the globe that highlighted people often unseen by the camera's eye. She captured images that were striking in their display of basic humanity, their sense of real life in all its grit and vibrancy, its specific and often brutal beauty. Her ability to reveal hidden and forgotten things was a gift, a skill that took her to some of the most isolated corners of the earth. It was also quickly making her one of the most acclaimed documentary photographers in the world. Maggie Henry's star had been rising for almost seven years. It showed no sign of slowing.

Lowering her camera, Maggie walked to the edge of the dirt lane, stretching to ease the tension in her shoulders. She was standing on one of the largest fair-trade coffee plantations in the country. It spread around her as far as the eye could see, with a bevy of coffee pickers harvesting the grounds and two guards armed with machine guns at the entrance.

Earlier the temperature had been almost cool in the shade of the high mountain coffee fields, but it had risen in the late afternoon. The sun was fierce now, and she felt a prickle of sweat beginning to bead under her quick-dry shirt, already rimed with dried salty blotches from her earlier hike. She didn't bother to blot it away. Sweat came as part of the job.

Maggie took a deep breath. The air smelled like dust and lush vegetation, a sharp, fertile scent that clung to the creases of her skin at the end of the day and had to be scrubbed away with her almond castile travel soap. She tucked a stray, dark curl back into her ponytail and let her gaze drift over the rolling terrain.

"Here, you need to stay hydrated." Sanne, Maggie's assistant for the shoot, appeared at her elbow and handed her a bottle of water. "I know it doesn't feel hot, but the sun's strong this close to the equator." A photojournalism student from South Africa, Sanne was interning with Maggie's photography agency for the summer. Her job was to provide whatever Maggie might need on the shoot, from paper clips to toothpaste to international dialing codes, a role she fulfilled with brisk efficiency.

"Thanks." Uncapping the bottle, Maggie took a long swallow of water, watching a tiny woman in a stained blue blouse as she hoisted a large basket of coffee cherries onto her back. Her face was tanned to the color of strong tea, her shoulders permanently sloped from years of picking on the steep hills.

"How's it going?" Sanne asked, surveying the line of pickers sitting along the lane with their baskets of cherries.

"Good. The light's perfect," Maggie replied, pleased with the afternoon's work so far. "I've got at least a dozen we could use from today."

On assignment for TIME Magazine, Maggie was shooting a photo spread for a feature article on fair-trade coffee. The article promised to reveal the truth behind the fair-trade label. Did the label make a difference in the lives of the pickers? From what Maggie had seen in the last week, the answer was no. The pickers and their families looked like countless others she had photographed in the slums of Mumbai, the sun-dried plateaus of sub-Saharan Africa. They bore the telltale signs of malnutrition and a lack of basic hygiene or medical care — missing teeth, leathery skin, a faint orange tinge to their hair. Poverty was a familiar story, but one that never grew easier with the telling.

Maggie gulped a few more swallows of water. It tasted of minerals. She lifted her face to the sun, closing her eyes and enjoying the brief respite. She loved the feeling of the sun's rays on her skin, the warmth seeping into her bones. She never burned, thanks to the complexion she'd inherited from her Puerto Rican mother. She just tanned a dark, burnished gold.

Maggie sighed, trying to tamp down a creeping sense of weariness. Another day or so and she would be done, flying back to Chicago to prep for her next assignment. This was normal life for her, jetting to far-flung places and for a week or a month immersing herself in a remote area of the globe, reemerging with a handful of marvelous photos to share with the rest of the world. In the past seven years, she'd tucked over ninety countries under her belt.

Bolstered by the momentary rest, Maggie tossed the half-empty water bottle into the leather backpack that seldom left her side. "I'm going to take some more shots before the light goes," she told Sanne. "We should have enough after today to wrap up by tomorrow."

Her assistant's face brightened. Although Sanne hadn't once complained, Maggie knew she had struggled with the ever-present dust, sparse living conditions, and multitude of insects. The first night rats had chewed through Sanne's backpack to reach her stash of organic granola bars. Maggie shrugged when she saw the gnawed hole. She accepted the more unsavory aspects as part of the job. Centipedes in the shower and grit in her teeth were standard fare. After years of working in primitive conditions many people would consider unlivable, very little was outside her comfort zone.

"Great." Sanne flashed a relieved smile. "I'll call the office and let them know our schedule." She was already moving before the words were out of her mouth.

Maggie lingered for a few minutes near the little girl in the rainbow-print shirt. She'd noticed the family at the beginning of the week. The girl and her brother were young. The plantation overseer claimed the girl was twelve, the age when children could begin picking coffee on the farm, but Maggie guessed she was no more than seven or eight. The boy appeared to be a year or two older.

The girl pranced in a circle in front of Maggie, imitating a rooster, showing off. She had a mop of frizzy curls, and her belly was slightly distended from malnutrition or parasites, probably both. Her mother worked silently nearby, sorting cherries while keeping a sharp eye on her daughter. Maggie snapped a few more photos, and the girl offered her a handful of coffee cherries, proudly telling her in Spanish that she had picked them herself. The arm she held out to Maggie was scabbed between the wrist and elbow from the tough coffee bushes. Maggie met the girl's eyes, seeing in that dark gaze a fierce independence tinged with a hint of desperation. Maggie had encountered that look countless times — in the faces of children indentured as cigarette rollers in Bangladesh, in the lipstick-painted smiles of Thai bar girls too young to fill out the sequined bras they wore. It was the look of a child forced to grow up too quickly.

"Gracias," Maggie responded easily, taking the cherries and carefully tucking them into her backpack, switching from English to Spanish without hesitation as she spoke. Her mother had often spoken Spanish to Maggie in their home. It didn't trip off Maggie's tongue as easily as English did these days, but Spanish was still a language that warmed her heart.

"Cómo te llamas?" Maggie asked the girl. What is your name?

The little girl giggled at Maggie's accent, so different from her own. "Carla," she answered.

"Que linda," Maggie responded. How lovely.

Leaving the mother to her work, Maggie walked slowly down the line of coffee pickers, camera in hand, alert for a potential angle that might catch her eye. Carla followed her, chattering away, asking for candy and chewing gum. She scuffed the dust with her bare feet as she ran alongside Maggie, keeping up a constant stream of conversation, both of them speaking Spanish.

"How old are you?" Carla demanded. "What's your name?"

"My name is Magdalena, and I'm old. Almost thirty." Maggie smiled, remembering how thirty had seemed impossibly ancient when she was Carla's age. She would be thirty in just a few months, and she had to admit that sometimes she felt old beyond her years. This kind of work exacted a toll. She loved it and couldn't imagine doing anything else, but she paid a price to do what she loved. Every year it seemed to cost her a little more.

Carla beamed at Maggie's attention.

"Estas bonita!" the little girl said admiringly. You're pretty! After a moment she asked again, this time more slyly, "Do you have any candy?"

"No. And you shouldn't eat candy. It isn't good for you," Maggie chided, smiling in spite of herself at the girl's obvious attempt to curry favor in the hope of getting a treat.

Carla grinned, showing her rotten teeth. "But I like it."

With a glance at Carla's hopeful, wary face, Maggie sighed and dug through her bag until she found a piece of sugar-free gum, then handed it to the child. It certainly couldn't do her teeth any more harm.

In the early years of her career, Maggie would have driven into town and tried to buy children's toothbrushes and toothpaste, taken Carla's family bottles of kid-friendly multivitamins in colorful animal shapes, urged the mother to send her children to school. After a few years of frustration, feeling as though she were throwing a teaspoon of remedy into an ocean of need, Maggie realized she could never single-handedly stop the grinding poverty, disease, and injustice that dogged so many of those she photographed. She had slowly come to understand the best thing she could offer was her camera, to turn the eyes of the world onto those who, like Carla, were ignored, forgotten, unseen.

In the past seven years, she had been gratified by the responses to many of her photos — two new schools in Kolkata, India, for girls at risk of being forced into the sex industry; an infant vaccination and health program among Roma families in the Balkans; an initiative against female circumcision in Eritrea; and a clean-water drive pairing villages in Sierra Leone with elementary schools in the United States. Her photos had been a catalyst for each one.

Maggie found tremendous satisfaction in making a difference in the world with her own two hands, but an even stronger motivation drove her to succeed. She had been raised by a single mother in a rough, inner-city neighborhood rife with poverty and violence. Her mother had worked hard, but often her earnings were barely enough to make ends meet. Some days it wasn't enough. Maggie knew firsthand the sharp pinch of deprivation felt by so many of those she now photographed. She had experienced the quiet sense of desperation, living day after day on a knife-edge, teetering between barely sufficient and not quite enough. And she had vowed never to be in that position again. She was driven by a genuine passion to help others, but also by an intrinsic need to secure her own future. She photographed the injustices of the world so she could challenge them, but also so she would never have to experience them again.

The sun was dipping low on the horizon when Maggie called it a day. Returning Carla to her mother, Maggie walked back to the shade of a spreading Spanish lime tree where her rolling camera case and the rest of her equipment lay. Sanne sat propped against the tree trunk with her laptop open. Beside her was the satellite phone Maggie carried to more remote locations for emergencies or in case the agency needed to contact her. It often provided the only internet connection in mountainous places such as this one. Sanne scrambled to her feet as Maggie approached.

"The light's going," Maggie said, pulling her camera strap over her head and handing her camera to Sanne. "I don't think I'll get any more good outdoor shots today. Let's pack up and head back to the casa. Luis wants to make some of the coffee from the plantation for us." The thought of the plantation overseer's thick, dark coffee, strong enough to make a spoon stand upright in the cup and liberally laced with Flor de Cana, Nicaragua's prized rum, was cheering after the long afternoon spent in the sun and dust. She unzipped her camera bag and checked to make sure all her equipment and lenses were in the right compartments.

Sanne carefully held the camera, a state-of-the-art digital Canon, as though it were eggshell porcelain. "And you still think we'll be done tomorrow, right?"

"Yeah. I got some great shots today, and I'll finish up whatever I still need in the morning." Maggie took the camera from Sanne and laid it in its compartment as gently as she would a sleeping baby. This was one of her favorite parts of a shoot, packing up her camera at the end of a day, the symbolic moment when she could lay an assignment to rest for the night, knowing she was free as a bird after a job well done.

"Did you manage to get an internet connection with that thing?" Maggie nodded toward the satellite phone.

Sanne grimaced. "More or less. It's slow, but it worked when I e-mailed the agency and let them know we'll be finishing up tomorrow. I'm going to see if I can get a better signal at the casa and try to book our flight."

She gathered up her laptop and the satellite phone, as well as the portable cooler and first aid kit she'd brought, and headed toward the white Toyota Land Cruiser parked by the side of the road. Their driver, Ernesto, a weathered Nicaraguan man of indeterminate age, was lounging against one of the front tires, napping.

Maggie paused for a moment under the tree, fishing through her backpack for the water bottle Sanne had given her. The branches overhead were heavily laden with clusters of small, just-ripening limes. Picking one from a low-hanging branch, she peeled an end and squeezed the juice into the half-empty water bottle. She took a few sips, enjoying the fresh sour pucker. She would miss these limes when she left.

Tomorrow or the next day she'd be on a plane back to Chicago. The thought was neutral for her, holding neither a sense of regret nor relief. Chicago was the city where she had grown up, but a place that no longer felt like her own. It was now just familiar terrain, one city among dozens of others where she could navigate the public transit and order a decent cup of coffee, well known but no longer special.

Home was an ambiguous concept for Maggie. She was never in one place for more than a month at most. She kept a studio apartment in her old stomping grounds in southwest Chicago, in the neighborhood where she was raised. It was no longer the rough, inner-city Latino community of her childhood. In recent years it had gentrified into an emergent arts community. No one she grew up with lived there now. They'd been pushed out by rent hikes and artisan coffee shops that catered to the surfeit of skinny artists with chunky glasses and side-swept bangs who now lived in the former tenements. Chicago was her landing pad and the location of the photography agency she was a part of, but it held little for her now except work assignments and memories, no real life. The truth was that Maggie felt more at home in the international terminal of an airport than she did in Chicago.

The only place that felt even remotely like home was far from where she'd grown up, in the Pacific Northwest in a cluster of remote islands north of Seattle, on San Juan Island. Every August she returned to the big yellow farmhouse perched on a bluff overlooking the sea, staying for a month with her two best friends from college, Lena and Marco, and their brood of three dark-haired children.


Excerpted from Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden. Copyright © 2017 Rachel Linden. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Ascension of Larks 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
EpicFehlReader More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite aspects of Ascension of Larks was the exceptional environment building author Rachel Linden offers. Whether on location with Maggie in Nicaragua, moving through her memories to past international travels, or at the Firelli summer home in the Pacific Northwest (where the bulk of the novel is set), the reader is fantastically immersed in the textures of all the various landscapes. Just as an example, check out this little snippet where Maggie recalls a distinct memory of her Puerto Rican mother: The kitchen was always warm, redolent with the smell of cilantro and oregano, and in the background, playing on the crackly cassette player on the fridge, was the music of her mother's youth -- folk singers like Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul and Mary, songs of peace and protest from the sixties. Ana had especially favored Joan Baez and Linda Ronstadt because of their Hispanic heritage. She would let Maggie rifle through the shoe box of cassettes and choose one tape after another. In those moments, in the tiny kitchen with a pot bubbling on the stove and the calls for peace and love ringing out with the strains of guitar and tambourine, it felt as though nothing could touch them, as though if they could stay there in the kitchen forever, nothing bad would ever happen. That being said, the plot itself had its share of tiring moments for me. I enjoyed the secondary characters such as Daniel and the charming motorcycle riding Pastor Griffin (the way Linden writes his character reminded me a bit of John Corbin's portrayal of the DJ Chris on the 90s tv show Northern Exposure). But storyline-wise, it veered on the soapy, most noticeably when it came to Lena's accident. When Lena acts all weird at breakfast that day, I immediately guessed (correctly) where Linden was headed with the plot. And that is where a good chunk of my investment in the plot checked out! The children's lives were suddenly being decided by people who understood the letter of the law but knew nothing about them, not who they were and certainly not what was truly in their best interest. They didn't know Gabby would fall asleep only if Bun Bun's head was tucked under her chin, or that you had to keep sweet snacks hidden behind the bins of beans and flour in the cupboard so Luca couldn't sneak them. And Jonah... she winced when she thought of Jonah, those dark, somber eyes and the downward slope of his young shoulders. He was a little boy carrying a misplaced guilt so heavy it was slowly crushing him. Still, this novel offers up another, unexpected but important side story that serves almost as a moral lesson to readers with children -- the importance of having your final wishes regarding dependents, godparents, etc all clearly outlined on paper! What Linden illustrates here, the power of the state to come in and completely tear up a home because they don't agree with the living arrangements (regardless of how happy and well-taken care of the children seem) is seriously terrifying! I don't even have kids and I was disturbed at the thought! So, people, get your final wishes on paper! While maybe the plot fell short for me here, as I mentioned earlier I did quite enjoy Linden's writing style in general and would be interested to check out more of her work in the future. FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
RobbyeReviewer More than 1 year ago
Ascension of Larks is Rachel Linden’s debut novel, and although it could have very easily become a dark tale of loss of love and death, it didn’t. However, it is not a happily ever after story by any means. Magdalena “Maggie” Henry has three constants in her life: her friendship with Marco and Lena Firelli, her career as a world renown photographer and her hidden love for Marco Firelli. When Marco accidentally drowns in a kayaking mishap, everything Maggie knows and lives for is shattered, leaving her rudderless and confused. The story is complex, dealing with friendships, careers and choices with far-reaching consequences, giving a glimpse into human nature and why some people do the things they do. The book is listed as Christian fiction. Conversely, there is virtually no true mention of God or the Bible. There are some small references to a character’s Catholic upbringing. Several references deal with mysticism and the rituals of German settlers to the island where the Firelli’s live. I sometimes had a hard time connecting to and understanding the characters. The love triangle was an uncomfortable element to the story, as were some of its supernatural aspects. Ms. Linden’s writing is poignant, powerful and descriptive, but the subject matter is controversial for Christian fiction. I received a copy of Ascension of Larks from The Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to provide a review.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
** “Faith is an open door for everyone. It’s not closed to you just because of how you were born. … I imagine God standing at the door, inviting us to come back. And the door is wide open for us if we want to come in. It’s as simple as that.” ** In her debut novel, “Ascension of Larks,” Rachel Linden offers a story that defines home and deals with loss and hope. Maggie Henry, a documentary photographer, is on scene in Nicaragua when she receives devastating news — the husband of her dearest college friends, Marco and Lena Firelli, died in a tragic drowning accident. She quickly rushes to their home on San Juan Island, off the shore of Washington, to care for Lena and her three children in the aftermath of Marco’s death. But when the family learns of financial difficulties Marco left them in, and another accident rocks the family, Maggie must decide between her burgeoning career and her love for her “family.” She must figure out how to protect the family she has grown to deeply love. “Ascension of Larks” is a lovely story of facing loss — lost loves, lost relationships and lost clarity — and how one deals with these losses. Does one turn to despair or hope? The book does offer a vague concept of hope and the idea that everything will turn out OK in the end, especially for those who have faith. It has a slight — albeit very slight — religious undertone, with discussions on faith and how God invites all to him. It also includes some “mystical” aspects, with quotes from some well-known mystics and a “beckoning” ceremony — one that helps lost loved ones find their way back home — performed by Maggie and the children. Linden’s novel also touches on the topics of devotion and sacrifice, choosing to do the right thing in all circumstances, acting out of goodness versus ulterior motives, and where and in whom home can be found. Through these lessons, she allows her characters to grow, learning new things about themselves and those around them. “Ascension of Larks,” although at times a dark, depressing read, is also filled with many moments of levity and tenderness. Linden also fills her novel with beautiful imagery — including the image of the skylark. Four stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it. The characters were well drawn and I came to know them. I felt that I was transported to their place and time and that is how I judge a well written book. I wanted to find out what happened to all of the characters and I find that I'm still thinking about them even after I finished the book.
Ellen-oceanside More than 1 year ago
ASCENSION OF LARKS by Rachel Linden Maggie successful as a photographer, but zero when it comes to relationships, or many friends. Carefree life, enjoying the moment of capturing that perfect picture. Death comes from someone she knew, he moved on and married. Interestingly she goes and helps her other friend Lena, whom he chose to marry. Was it helpful for Lena and children, and about reflexing on what Maggie had in life. Very interesting and readers will this story of relationship and paths chosen in one's life. Given book by Thomas Nelson Publisher for my voluntary review and my honest opinion.
Ellen-oceanside More than 1 year ago
ASCENSION OF LARKS by Rachel Linden Maggie successful as a photographer, but zero when it comes to relationships, or many friends. Carefree life, enjoying the moment of capturing that perfect picture. Death comes from someone she knew, he moved on and married. Interestingly she goes and helps her other friend Lena, whom he chose to marry. Was it helpful for Lena and children, and about reflexing on what Maggie had in life. Very interesting and readers will this story of relationship and paths chosen in one's life. Given book by Thomas Nelson Publisher for my voluntary review and my honest opinion.
bookstoregal More than 1 year ago
Not what I expected it to be. It's sad, introspective, a story about loss and letting go. Has a few good lessons, and I like most of the characters, but not really a style of writing that I love. I generally like something a bit faster paced and not so sad. No offense to the author! Not really a Christian book, either, for those of you expecting that from this publisher. I I received this from the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I received this book from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to give a favorable review and all thoughts are my own. This was an interesting story about 3 people who went to college together. Each came from different backgrounds. And 2 of them fell in love and got married and the third stayed their friend through it all even thought she was in love with the man. Maggie, became a wonderful photographer, Marco married Lena, became a gifted architect, husband and father. And Lena became a loving wife and mother. They had a home in New York and the summer place in Washington State. They were at the summer place and then came the tragedy that affected them all. Marco drowned. Maggie was in Brazil finishing up a photo spread and got back as soon as she received the call. But little did she and Lena know that things were going to change drastically that summer. Strength, belief and great friendship will get them though the many challenges that will be facing during this time. This was a wonderful story of overcoming bad and believing in friendship.
BookReviewerTG More than 1 year ago
Rachel Linden writes a most unusual story of love lost, love regained. However, love is not regained in the fashion that most of us would assume. Magdalena (Maggie) Henry loves Marco but Marco meets Lena. Marco loves Lena. they marry and have three children. This is not the end but the beginning of the most unusual story. Then Lena makes a choice and Maggie must decide if she can/will help Marco's children. This story takes place on the San Juan Island and the author does an beautiful job of describing the beauty of the island. This was a fast read for me because the suspense kept me turning page after page. This story is classified as christian genre but there is little mention of God and none of Jesus. There is some superstition. So if the reader can is looking for a clean, wholesome read then this is a good one. A nice debut novel with a most interesting ending. *This book was provided for review by the Fiction Guild*
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
I can't imagine living a life loving someone who loves you back but whom you can never truly be with. That is the life of Maggie Henry who spent her college years with her best friend Lena and Marco Firelli. A truer friendship none could find anywhere. Maggie was a talented photographer who has been gifted with the opportunity to travel all over the world showing the world what life looked like someplace else. Marco was so much like Maggie, craving the lime light of success as a budding architect who dreamed one day to have it all, a successful self made business and a wife and family. Maggie and Marco were so alike that is seemed natural that they would be a power couple, but soon it dawned on Maggie that Marco wasn't willing to settle for someone so much like himself that they would burn one another out. So he married Lena and broke Maggie's heart. While he built a family and a business, Maggie stayed gone for as long as it would take for her heart to mend. Unfortunately it never would and soon, she found herself spending more time alone and leaving her truest friends behind. Just as she was about to finish up a photo shoot abroad, Lena calls her to tell her Marco is dead. A tragic accident that has left Lena and her three children all alone. Of course, Maggie heads back to San Juan Island to figure out just what happened and to help manage things for Lena while she struggles with her own grief. Unwilling to admit and acknowledge the death of her husband, Lena spends all her time, baking, canning and creating to keep the present day from dawning on her doorstep. Maggie knew that people needed their own way to grieve and when Lena woke up one morning, said goodbye and walked out the door, Maggie just assumed she was running errands. She never expected for Lena to attempt to take her own life driving her car into a wall hoping to put an end to the pain. Now locked away from her pain in a coma, Maggie works with Ellen, Lena's aunt to help the children deal with their grief not knowing in their mom will come back to them. Maggie meets Daniel and man that seems intent on keeping watch over the house and family but staying far away. She learns that he is serving out a self penance of sorts as he is the man responsible for Marco's death. He believes he is doomed to spend his life trying to write all the wrongs in his own life and it will take an experience like no other for all of them to find a way back to life and for healing to finally begin. But with so many unanswered questions Maggie isn't sure what is next in her life. She imagined Marco would always be there and now she spends her own solitude dealing with the feelings she had for him and how to resolve it now possibly having to raise three children all on her own. But soon she will learn that there are more secrets to Marco's life than she ever imagined and now she will have to deal with the possibility she could have had the life she might have always dreamed of before it was snuffed out much too soon. I received The Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and TLC Book Tours. This is such an exceptional novel once you get past the slow beginning. Trust me, hang in there it is so worth it when the novel picks up speed and gains momentum. I love the legend of the island that helps the family come to terms with their loss. "They were waiting for a sign, you see. They needed to know the soul had come back home and could now rest peacefully.
ElisaG More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderfully written, with stunningly lyrical passages and vivid descriptions. More than that, the characters come to life as real people, with the flaws and inconsistencies that real people have--and yet they're sympathetic. It's a book that presents both reality and redemption. I highly recommend it to someone who wants to read a sensitive, thoughtful, intensely felt book that also happens to be a page-turner.
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
The book was well written and had an original story but as for being a Christian book well as for me I would have to disagree. They have characters agreeing with smoking and drinking and then there is the relationship with Maggie and Marco. Then there are other things that happen in the book that just aren't Biblical. You do have a priest in the book though. I received this book from Thomas Nelson.