Henry and Rachel: Book summary and reviews of Henry and Rachel by Laurel Saville

Henry and Rachel

By Laurel Saville

Henry and Rachel

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Book Summary

Brought to live with the George family as a child, all anyone knew about enigmatic Rachel was that she worked hard, making herself indispensable to the plantation. And she remained a mystery until the day she disappeared…even to her husband. Especially to her husband.

Henry was Rachel's opposite - gregarious where she was quiet, fanciful where she was pragmatic. After years of marriage, Rachel left Henry and their oldest son without explanation and set off on a steamer for New York City with their other four children. Was her flight the ultimate act of betrayal or one of extraordinary courage? Eight characters connected by blood and circumstance reconstruct Rachel's inexplicable vanishing act.

Weaving real family letters into this narrative of her own great-grandparents, Laurel Saville creates a historical novel of incredible depth and beauty.

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Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Martha S. (Mentor, OH)
Henry and Rachel
I very much enjoyed this book. Some of the story line was predictable but not all; there were surprises. The author's character development worked well, although like many family histories, some characters still left questions in my mind. Each chapter is written from a different character's perspective so you begin to understand each person, how the character thinks and their actions. Although the author had family stories as a basis of her tale, additional research leads her to develop the story. Included in the book were actual excerpts from letters written long ago. I look forward to future work from this author.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Mary J. (La Quinta, CA)
Slow!
Henry and Rachel is a good book but it took me almost half of the book before I felt the characters and became lost in the story. The moving back and forth between characters based by chapter was off putting to me. I would recommend for book clubs because it would be great to flesh out characters.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Rita H. (Centennial, CO)
Thought-Provoking on Many Levels
Seldom do I read a book that I want to mark up and reread parts and passages but Henry and Rachel definitely fits this role. I empathized with each of the characters despite their flaws. Even Mrs. G gets some of my sympathy as she was caught in such a meaningless life. I almost cried at the fate of Rachel's parents. Lines comparing bachelors and spinsters made me chuckle and simultaneously, shake my head as the sad truth. This is a book that I will share with friends and probably, recommend as a bookclub read, which means I will have to reread it! I would say that this book will appeal most to a somewhat older group as I think it takes a lot of living to truly appreciate the challenges, strengths and weaknesses of each character.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Jan M. (Broken Arrow, OK)
Well written but depressing
This was an interesting book, with well constructed sentences and easy to follow structure. The story line was nicely presented, but by the end of the book, I was really disgusted with Rachel, the main character. I found myself thinking, "just get over it girl!" Bad things happen to many people, but they manage to rise above and lead happy lives. Rachel seemed to wallow in her self-pity and, in my opinion was not a very nice person. She wasted her life nursing her unhappiness rather than take advantage of the love and opportunities available to her. I guess I didn't like the story, but conversely I must say it was held my attention. It was not a 'happily ever after' type, but biographical stories like many life events don't always have happy endings either. That said, I will add that this book appeared to have been thoroughly researched and gave this reader a glimpse of island life during Henry and Rachel's time. A good read, about some rather unpleasant characters.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Karen S. (Minneapolis, MN)
Draws you in
I have enjoyed reading Henry and Rachel. It has a quiet way of drawing you in. It is told from multiple points of view and unfolds in a meandering sort of way. Quite lovely.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Amy F. (West Roxbury, MA)
Beautiful
I thought the writing was beautiful hence the 4 rating, but I could not engage with the story. I decided to put the book aside for now and come back to the story later. I also plan to check out the author's memoir. I think this is a book that I will appreciate, now is just not the time for me to read it.

...16 more reader reviews

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Laurel Saville is an award-winning writer. Her memoir, Unraveling Anne, originally published under the title Postmortem, won a Next Generation Indie Book Award and a Hollywood Book Festival award in 2011. A graduate of New York University, she also holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing and literature from Bennington College in Vermont.

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