*I’m starting with what I didn’t care for, so please don’t write off this story due to these first couple paragraphs.
I had very mixed feelings throughout reading this book. Having read several others by Rachel Hauck that I loved, I was surprised to have a hard time with this one. I wanted to love it… and in some ways I did.. but in other ways it felt to me like there was a little something missing.
Before I go any further, I should say that after much contemplation on this book and how I felt about it, I think my disappointments largely stem from listening rather than reading it myself. While there were some things in the story itself that got to me, for the most part I would have been able to overlook them… I think I might be able to listen to Windy Lanzl read another book (maybe one set in the semi-south… with no British or New York-ish characters…) and enjoy it more. One thing that bothered me was her attempt at voices/accents.. because her voices weren’t consistent.
So.. what did I love about Rachel Hauck’s The Writing Desk? I loved the creativity found in this story. I loved that this writer knows how to create unique characters with layers and grow them throughout the story, letting the reader get to know them more deeply as the pages turn. I loved the intricacies of the dual timelines and how Rachel Hauck wove them together to create one story.
The modern part of this book follows Tenley, a best-selling writer struggling to come up with her second book.. she’s pretty caught up in the excitement of her fame but in her heart she is seeking more depth, even though she doesn’t quite know what she’s looking for. Tenley finds herself passing up a trip to Paris with her “sort of fiance” to care for her estranged mother as she goes through chemo. She’s not very empathetic toward her mother (disappointing but realistic, considering everything) but the fact that she’s there at all says a lot.. especially after Tenley and her dad were abandoned by Blanche (as Tenley calls her) when Tenley was only 9. I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow in hesitant ways as they got to know each other. I also enjoyed how Tenley’s friendship with Jonas, a neighbor/longtime friend of Blanche’s sprouted as he accepted Tenley where she was. It’s super sweet.
The other half of this dual timeline book begins during the gilded age, and it’s about Birdie, a rich heiress who has more heart than care for wealth and fame. She dreams of being a published author, and of marrying for love… hopefully to Eli, who’s captured her heart but doesn’t have her parents’ approval. Her parents have other ideas though and have made business-type arrangements with a different suitor.
Birdie and Tenley’s lives end up intersecting, although they never knew each other. There’s much bittersweet in this book. I’m still not quite at rest with the culmination but I think I’d like to try actually reading it in book form. I think that would help me.
This book is comparable to… a can of soup. I have a certain line of canned soup that I love but can’t eat much anymore. There’s just something that I can’t quite put my finger on that’s missing, and I’ve had a hard time eating it since chemo.