From the book’s beginning, Claire Laurent causes the reader to like her, pity her, and admire her. Claire nursed her mother throughout the last months of her life; her fondest memories are of her mother, painting, and France’s Versailles. Claire’s father and “uncle” are forcing her to copy and also forge paintings which they illegally sell. When she must flee to Nashville and find a way to make a living alone, Claire braves the straightforward, wealthy Adelicia Acklen to obtain a position as her personal liaison. With the help of Willister (humor added to the romance because of his name) Sutton Monroe, Claire finds her own strength through love, gratitude, and God. Living in the “American Versailles,” Claire interacts with wonderful characters like Cordina, Eli, and Zeke - the warmth of their kindnesses, humor, and wisdom will touch your heart.
This historical fiction account set around a real woman (Adelicia) who survived the Civil War years will draw the reader into the destruction, loss, and rebuilding of the South after the war. The “American Versailles” still stands; if I travel to Nashville, I would like to tour the Belmont Mansion, and Adelicia Acklen’s personal letters and newspaper articles about her home and lavish parties were part of Tamera Alexander’s research as she wrote this book. While reading, I had marked a page with what I thought were beautifully spoken words. Then, at the end of the novel, I found a note from the author to the reader in which she said that Adelicia’s dialogue had come from a personal letter that Adelicia had written to her sister in 1860. The dialogue ends with, “As it it...I have come to believe that it’s only by taking some of those objects from us to which our hearts so closely cling that He endeavors...in His kindness, to draw us from this world to one of greater happiness.”
Claire and Adelicia’s love for beautiful paintings and sculptures may inspire young adult and adult readers to visit their nearest art museum soon. I looked up a few of the American artists and their works described in A Lasting Impression. The romance and friendships are so loyal and pure – it’s refreshing reading!