When Beth Carson flees her controlling husband, a Sydney surgeon, and travels to Florence, Oregon, she is unsure what her future holds. Although her only knowledge of Florence comes from a few postcards found in her late mother’s effects, she immediately feels at home there and begins to put down roots.
But Beth’s past returns to haunt her in ways she could never have imagined. Distraught over alarming reports from Australia and bewildered by revelations from the past, Beth turns to new friends to help her.
Tom Harrison, a local lawyer, has spent the past five years coming to terms with his wife’s death, and building a solitary existence which he has come to enjoy. Adept at ignoring the overtures of local women and fending off his meddling daughter, he is intrigued by this feisty Australian and, almost against his will, finds himself drawn to her when she seeks his legal advice.
What forces are at work to bring the two together, and can Beth overcome her past and find a way forward?
Set on the beautiful Oregon Coast this is a tale of a woman who seeks to rise above the challenges life has thrown at her and establish a new life for herself.
Madeline House marks the third novel in Australian author Maggie Christensen’s Oregon Coast Series. This is my first turn at the works of Maggie Christensen and Madeline House is a book that easily reads as a stand-alone novel. Established fans of the series will find much comfort in the return of familiar characters from the previous two novels. New readers, such as myself, will take away much enjoyment from this book. It had me wanting to delve into more witting from this author once I finished Madeline House.
Madeline House is focussed on the story of Beth Carson, or a woman also known as Elizabeth Flynn. Beth is the token wife of a highly successful and wealthy surgeon based in Sydney. From the outset, it appears Beth and her husband have everything, but underneath the shiny veneer lies an unhappy marriage. Beth’s husband is controlling an emotionally abusive. When Beth’s mother dies, an opportunity arises allowing Beth to escape the chains of her husband Bryan. Beth is drawn to a place named Florence, based in Oregon, the United States. Sorting through her Mother’s possessions, Beth discovers a number of postcards from Florence that prompts Beth to visit a place that obviously held a connection to her mother. Beth hopes to uncover the meaning of this connection, while also starting a new life for herself. When Beth arrives at Florence, she soon makes friendships and forms relationships that play an important role in her emotional rehabilitation from her ex husband. However, trouble from her ex husband looms, jeopardising Beth’s chances of making a new positive future for herself.
Madeline House was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The writing immediately struck me as engaging and honest. The dialogue is authentic, which feeds into the characters, making them feel very realistic. In fact, there were many times I felt drawn into the small town community of Florence, feeling like I was an integral part of the town’s fabric. I loved that the main characters in this novel were mature and many women’s fiction readers will find characters such as the main protagonist Beth’s issues easy to relate to. Christensen explores themes such as love, friendship, betrayal, abuse, relocation and second chances with a solid understanding. Setting is also a highlight in Madeline House. Christensen shows her passion for her two settings, crossing from Sydney in Australia to Oregon in the United States with ease. Her descriptions of both locations were well drawn. Overall, I found the narrative appealing. In particular, I took great enjoyment in witnessing the personal the growth of the main character Beth, while also taking in the light romance and friendships that were born from Beth’s move.
For readers of women’s fiction, Madeline House is a novel I would definitely recommend. Its focus on issues close to the mature women’s heart makes it an endearing read.
Madeline House was published in 2016 by Cala Publishing. Click here for more information on how to purchase a copy.
With thanks to the author, Maggie Christensen, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.