Thursday, August 19, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: In All Good Faith by Liza Nash Taylor

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

In All Good Faith by Liza Nash Taylor is an uplifting historical novel set in the eastern U.S. in the era of the Great Depression. It follows the intertwining fortunes of two strong women, May Marshall Craig and Dorrit Sykes.

May was the heroine of a previous novel, Etiquette for Runaways, and this continues her saga. Married now to the man she has always loved, Byrd Craig, she continues to work at her family’s small-town market, a store that is slowly failing, while her husband struggles to support the family on a lawyer’s salary when no one has money to pay him. He has to take a job in Washington D.C., doing important work, but work that allows him only the weekends to spend at home. His reaction to life’s setbacks is to double down on his determination to be the provider. Whenever May broaches the topic of an entrepreneurial idea of her own, he shuts her down. With faith in her own business sense and the strength of her product, she forges ahead secretly.

Dorrit is the seventeen-year-old daughter of a WWI veteran, fallen on hard times. Her mother died in childbirth and her older brother ran off to join the merchant marines. Her father is a skilled mechanic, who pins his hopes on inventing a better mousetrap. Dorrit takes in sewing, entertains herself with Nancy Drew mysteries, and agonizes over questions of faith. (Her mother, a devout Christian Scientist, would likely have survived had she not refused medical intervention until it was too late.)

The novel takes the reader along on the winding paths of these two characters. At first, the misery index is fairly high. I was engaged with Dorrit’s story from the first, but took a little longer to click with May. Once their paths intersected, things began to look up for both, and I settled in to the read with more hopefulness. I enjoyed seeing how they coped with adversity. The story carried me along to its satisfying conclusion.

The novel works very well as a standalone, though I do wonder if my initial detachment from May was a result of not having read the first novel. While this one does provide May’s backstory, I might have benefitted from the unfolding of her history in book one.

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