It was 1877 when Tabitha Hall Chadwick left Manti as a young bride. Now, nearly seven years later, she returns as a widow with her young son to make a new beginning. Tabitha’s strained relationship with her mother-in-law adds more difficulty to her life as a single working mother. Yet with a stroke of courage, Tabitha makes two purchases that become her passions: the local newspaper business and a traumatized horse.
As she struggles to meet the challenges of her new roles, Tabitha welcomes the friendship of Samuel, a recently widowed British immigrant. Working together to train the abused horse, the two discover a second chance at love. But when Samuel is critically injured during the construction of the Manti Temple, Tabitha faces the pain of old wounds and the risk of new ones.
Weaving themes of loss and renewal, this poignant tale explores a vital choice each of us must make: to seek safety in isolation or to embrace the painful yet beautiful complexities of life and love.
I have to be honest here. I'm about 3/4 of the way through this book. I thought I'd have plenty of time to read it during spring break, but somehow vacation time went by much more quickly than I had anticipated. While I don't know how it ends, I do know it's a fantastic story. I started reading it yesterday and couldn't walk away from my computer! This is definitely my favorite of Annette Lyon's temple series so far!
I love Tabitha! One of my favorite characteristics about her is that when she returns to Manti after a six year absence, all of her old acquaintances keep calling her Tabby . . . and she hates it! Each time she hears someone call her by her old nickname, she thinks "I'm not a cat!" It just makes me smile. :)
Tabitha is no wimpy character. She's a strong woman who lost her husband as a young bride and set out to find a way to care for her son. She attends college in Logan and, after graduating, become a teacher as well as a writer for a local newspaper. Then she receives an amazing opportunity to purchase and run her own newspaper back in her home town of Manti. The only problem is, well - it's her home town filled with painful memories.
Tabitha decides to take on the challenge. She has such strength as she searches for the right path to take. While she faces many trials, she also makes me laugh at her responses. For instance, her mother-in-law doesn't approve of Tabitha's friendship with Samuel and sets out to do everything she can to prove her point. I loved that after one instance, during a poetry recital, the mother-in-law chooses a poem that is hurtful for Tabitha. But Tabitha approaches her afterward to compliment her on her poetry choice, then pointedly walks out of the room on Samuel's arm! It made me want to stand up and shout, "You go girl!" It was one of those moments when I found myself rather envious of a fictional character.
Samuel has his own set of challenges. He too is a widow, but only of a few months, and he dearly misses his wife. I love his memories of their life together and finding the gospel. It reminds me so much of learning the gospel in my own life. I really connected with Samuel. Right now, I'm at a point in the book where Samuel and Tabitha have shared their feelings for each other. But then Samuel leaves for this tithing work on the temple - only to be involved in an explosion that leaves him seriously injured. While Tabitha is worried about Samuel, she's also freaked out because her first husband died in a mining explosion and this incident has hit her too close to home.
I'm itching to get back to the book to find out if Tabitha can overcome her fears of death and loss to take a chance on loving Samuel. So, if you'll excuse me - I'm going to close this review and get back to reading!
QOTC Rating (even though I don't know the end - I'm trusting Annette to pull through!) - Five Stars!
You can purchase Tower of Strength here or visit Annette Lyon's blog here.