Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Review for Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: July 9th 2019 by St. Martin's Press

With the writing chops of Ian McEwan and the story-craft of Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.

A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.

Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women—thrown together in the name of family—who, in coming to understand each other, come finally to understand themselves. 

My Thoughts…

Karen Kelly is a new author to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect.   I found Bethlehem to be a book that kept me wanting to turn pages to learn more about the characters and the town of Bethlehem.  

The story of Frank and Joanna who go to live at Frank’s family home along with their two children are set in the 1960s.  In the home resides the two matriarchs of the family, Frank’s mother and grandmother.   This leaves Joanna feeling like she is a visitor in her home, decisions are made without her being asked, her children are given freedoms and without her consent, and Frank is always at work.   Joanna feels like she is losing herself.  The mother-in-law, Susannah, also gets to tell her story that starts in the 1920s and leads to the revealing secrets that she has kept close to the heart to not cause any family problems.  

I felt that the start was a little hard to follow because there were so many characters introduced at one time.   I struggled to keep them straight and to follow who’s story I was reading.    As the story continued it became easier to figure out and I grew more attached to both the characters and the story itself.   

Bethlehem is a woman’s historical fiction.   It tells of life in a town that is supported by the U.S Steel industry but goes on to show the bond between a mother and daughter and the struggles of marriage.  The cover should draw your attention but the storyline will keep you entertained.  

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