4 out of 4 stars
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Ambitious Anna is the youngest partner in her law firm. She and her husband Frederick both have lucrative careers, a beach house, and an enviable life--from the outside. What isn't enviable is the personal tragedy they are both crushed by daily. The Refuge by Heidi Martin describes how the tragedy touches every part of Anna and Frederick's life together, threatening to tear them apart. When Anna starts having strange dreams and longing to leave her native Boston, she wonders what it is all about. For so long, she has defined herself by her career success, and is not sure what will happen when she ventures outside the boundaries of her current life.
Heeding the tug she feels to leave the city, Anna is introduced to a life she never thought she would have. Against the advice of her well-intentioned sister Julia, Anna opens herself to a new way of living in South Carolina. Along the way she meets a lovely little girl and a generous neighbor. Anna's experiences bring up new questions for her. How long can she put her old life on hold? Can she find real healing from personal tragedy? Who is she really meant to be? Is her concept of love all wrong?
The Refuge is an intriguing book. It contains love stories but it is not strictly a romance novel. It highlights some aspects of Ms. Martin's personal life, but it is not an autobiography. It discusses spirituality, but it is not a religious work. My favorite part of the story is its deep character development. Anna is not portrayed as a damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued by being swept off her feet. She is a realistic, relatable heroine facing difficult human issues. While she desires romantic love in her life, she is not ruled by her desire. The unique relationships portrayed in the book, along with the relatable heroine make The Refuge a different kind of novel.
Readers looking for inspiration will enjoy The Refuge, as it chronicles one woman's journey to forgive herself and find self love. Through genuine relationships and well-rounded characters, Anna discovers the value of second chances, spirituality, and giving and receiving love. Readers who subscribe to one particular faith may not like the story, as it incorporates elements from many different religions and gives each one equal value.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The story flows at a natural pace, I found myself invested in the characters' outcome, and the work appears to be professionally edited with no errors of note.
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