Book Title and Author: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly
Publication Date and Publisher: July 9, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Pages: 304 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: June 28, 2019 (e-arc)
With the writing chops of Ian McEwan and the story-craft of Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.
A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.
Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women—thrown together in the name of family—who, in coming to understand each other, come finally to understand themselves.
This family saga was a 3/5 star read for me, so I’m going to do things a little differently and list what worked and what didn’t:
– Isn’t that cover just gorgeous? I absolutely love the cover and honestly chose to read this for the cover before reading the synopsis
-Kelly is an eloquent writer and paints a vivid picture of the time periods, the 1920s and 1960s, since the story is told in dual timelines
-She really excels at her characterization of Susannah, or “Sassy” as she’s called. I felt like I understood Sassy and completely empathized with her in the book.
-The women in the book: Susannah, Helen, Joanna, Doe are wonderful, strong, albeit flawed, female characters. I found their relationships and friendships to be a very engaging part of the novel.
-The second half is the best part of the book and if you can hang in that long to read it, then you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful story of love, family, forgiveness, and healing.
-The novel is more women’s fiction than anything; it’s definitely not the historical fiction I was expecting.
– The first 50% of the novel is extremely slow, and I considered DNFing but as I said above, if you can get past this point, it’s a beautiful story.
-The character of Joanna in the 1960s is underdeveloped and I thought unnecessary to the storyline. Sassy is definitely the focal point of the novel.
All in all, this was an enjoyable read. I didn’t love it as I had hoped and like some of my Traveling Sisters who read it with me did, but I enjoyed it and the discussions we had! I encourage you to check out other reviews on Goodreads since I might be an outlier for this one!
Is Bethlehem on your TBR or have you read it? I’d love to know if you have and what you thought!
~A Traveling Sisters read; thanks, ladies for the wonderful discussion about this one!~
**Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC. All opinions are my own.**