Top critical review
To Whisper her Name by Tamera Alexander
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 6, 2013
In the spirit of following my number one "rule" in reviewing, I have to admit that though expertly written, while reading this, boredom set in a handful of times. I have a theory for why this one didn't appeal to my reading personality but we'll go into that later. Our main protagonists are Olivia, a widow resulting indirectly (he wasn't a causality of the fighting rather from his pacifist beliefs) from the war and Ridley Cooper, a former soldier who is protecting wounding secrets of his own. The both of them meet on a plantation owned by the husband of Olivia's dear friend, Elizabeth. Herein is where that lack of interest figures in. Everything circles back to the "working parts" of Belle Meade being a stud farm and not being an animal person, I fought boredom during the conversations and dealings with the horses. Counteracting that, any fan of civil war era aficionados will be impressed by how "period-friendly" this book was. Everything "felt" very authentic and transports the reader back into the (post) Civil war era - even snippets of it reminded me, in visualizing it, of Gone with the Wind; I do think Tamera got a bit too caught up in the descriptions of the surroundings which stalled the story in places.
Tamera's writing was very detailed and well stated, even poetic at times though the use of names in nearly every sentence of each conversation was tiring (I suspect this is authentic to the period...?). Further confounding those conversations was the similar names of characters, which presents a mild conversational stumbling block, examples being Lizzie, Elizabeth (which could also be problematic since I have a cousin named Elizabeth who uses nearly all of the shortened variations of the name); also the continuous use of character's Christian names wore down the prose. Pleasantly surprising and sweet to read was the meeting between Olivia and Ridley which was "adorable"; as were many of their interactions full of passion, sassiness and fun.
(Perhaps this is being too "picky" but one other thing I found a bit annoying was the overuse of the word "sneaked." It seemed to ruin the "flow" of the book - it reads very "awkward.")
Looking deeper and digging into the heart of the story, personally, I didn't think this novel captured the essence of Christianity. It was interesting to have Ridley and Olivia attend the church with Uncle Bob and the rest of the house servants but it didn't really make me "feel" their conversation. Everything leading up to the final reconciliation was all about its historical surroundings rather the spiritual needs of the characters. To my surprise, the character's personalities - as I alluded to earlier, were developed well, it was just that this is one overlong novel that should have been able to bring more substance to the lives of these characters. Any historical lover will be in for an exquisitely written piece of historical fiction; when it comes down to it, I'd bet any aficionado of the period would be hard pressed to find a better prose!
(C) Copyright On the Bookshelf 2013