Book review: 'Forever and Forever' is a beautiful historical fiction love story

Posted May 31

"FOREVER AND FOREVER: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton," by Josi Kilpack, Covenant Communications, $15.99, 327 pages (f)

Josi S. Kilpack creates a vivid look into the love story of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Frances Gold Appleton in her novel "Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton" by mingling fictionalized details with historical records.

It's 1836, and Frances "Fanny" Appleton is traveling with her wealthy, upper-class family across Europe, enjoying the culture and shopping. Fanny isn't just a typical 19-year-old of the time period, however. She is heavily drawn toward expanding her mind through art, language, literature and deep thinking.

During that same time, recently widowed Henry Longfellow is also touring Europe, working to gain proper credentials for professorship at Harvard College, and his travels intersect with the Appleton family’s. Attracted to her intellect, Henry pursues Fanny, but Fanny has reservations because Henry not only is a widower but also is 10 years her senior and from a lower social class.

After returning to America, Fanny begins taking German lessons from Henry, which he sees as part of a courtship and a developing relationship. After he proposes marriage and she declines, Fanny becomes barely cordial toward him to prevent him from having any hope of a relationship between them.

Henry remains close to the Appleton family as he works on improving his station in life through writing, still hoping to win Fanny's affection. His misery grows as she continues to reject him. Despite his effort, Henry's heart will not let go of Fanny, and after personal and spiritual growth, Fanny begins to see what she really wants out of life — and what God wants for her.

Kilpack's well-researched and expertly woven love story between Fanny and Henry is a captivating and enjoyable read, especially for readers who love proper or Regency romances or historical fiction. “Forever and Forever” beautifully transports readers into the time period as well as the life of one of America's most famous poets. Kilpack includes a timeline and chapter notes at the end of the book so readers can separate the facts from her fictional elements.

"Forever and Forever" contains no swearing, violences or described sexual content.

Wendy Jessen is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and frequently does media reviews. She blogs at mormonmomofsix.blogspot.com. Twitter: @WendyJessen Email: wendyjessen26@gmail.com


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