A Marriage in Middlebury
Love so powerful it was meant to last a lifetime --- that’s what Charlotte Rose Hill and Sam Wilder had at 18. The whole town of Middlebury could see it, and no one expected anything short of marriage. Especially not Charlotte. But when the magical moment arrived, she responded to Sam’s proposal with a “no” and walked away, leaving her heart --- and his --- shattered in a million shards of pain. In that defining moment, Charlotte changed the course of her life in more ways than she could have imagined. Sam didn’t know the reasons for Charlotte’s shocking answer, and she couldn’t tell him --- not without revealing a secret that would ruin the reputations of both their families and cause irreparable damage to people they loved. But knowing she did the “right” thing didn’t compensate for the loss of her dream.
Nineteen years later, Charlotte has made peace with her decision and moved on to become the owner of a cozy tearoom known for its unique blends, delicious homemade delicacies and friendly proprietor. There’s no one special in her life, but all is well. When word gets out that Sam is returning to Middlebury, old feelings creep into her heart. She can’t help but feel excited about his return, until he introduces her to his fiancé, Audrey. Even worse, they ask Charlotte to help plan the reception.
"A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY is uplifting, captivating, and the kind of book you’ll want to read and pass along to family and friends."
Sam never intended to feel his heart flutter again for Charlotte. He loves Audrey and plans to spend the rest of his life with her. But seeing Charlotte in that tearoom stirs feelings best left forgotten and questions that still beg answers. The mystery surrounding their severed relationship grows thicker when Sam’s dying father asks to see Charlotte. She complies, expecting him to seek forgiveness for the heartbreak he caused long ago, and fully ready to offer it. Instead, he tells her the ugly truth behind the reason he threatened to blackmail her if she became engaged to his son. His words are horrid and appalling, but just like all those years ago, she does not share their conversation with Sam.
Charlotte turns to God over and over, seeking strength, courage and comfort in dealing with this latest round of punches. In addition to seeing the love of her life engaged to another woman, and discovering another layer of hatefulness in his father, Charlotte must come to grips with learning she is unable to bear children. If she had said “yes” to Sam’s proposal that day, she would be a wife and mother, instead of facing a future in which neither of those titles may ever come to pass. But our God is the God of hope, and He has answers to Charlotte’s prayers.
Charlotte and Sam’s story is one of several in this lovable novel, but the ongoing subplots are easy and fun to follow. Author Anita Higman successfully threads multiple stories without ever confusing the reader or taking the main characters out of the limelight. Each of her characters comes to life with unique personalities and flaws. Some are more likable than others, of course, but all are convincingly real. Beautifully woven throughout the main plot, as well as the subplots, is the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation.
As for the setting, Higman magically transports the reader to the lovely town of Middlebury in springtime, where you can almost smell the flowers in bloom, hear the church bells, and taste Charlotte’s fragrant teas. It is a Mayberry kind of town, abundant in charm and people you’d want for neighbors.
A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY is uplifting, captivating, and the kind of book you’ll want to read and pass along to family and friends.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on December 17, 2013