Official Review: At the Feet of Serenity by Eve Gwartney

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kdstrack
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Official Review: At the Feet of Serenity by Eve Gwartney

Post by kdstrack »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "At the Feet of Serenity" by Eve Gwartney.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Henry and Grace enjoyed a beautiful courtship. While they were dating, they took a photo of Henry in front of a statue called Serenity. As a married couple, they owned and ran a hotel until Grace became sick and died. When Henry was left alone to raise their five children, he had to make a difficult decision concerning his children's future. Could he give his sons and daughters what they needed? Would Social Services force him to place the children in foster care? The story follows the lives of the children and how their father's choices affected their lives.

Tom and Derek were the oldest of the boys. They both had clear, yet conflicting, memories of their mother and her final words. Each one's memory of her final message had a strong influence on their decisions later in life. When the author reached adulthood, she went through her father's things. She discovered her father's journals and his old photos, including the photo of Serenity. This iconic photo became an allegory of how Serenity had seen this family's birth, joys, and struggles. This trove of historical treasures helped the author understand her father and put her brothers' lives and choices in a new light.

At the Feet of Serenity by Eve Gwartney is a nonfiction book that recounts Henry Clayland's and his descendants' lives. The youngest of the five siblings narrated the family history with vivid descriptions and realistic dialogues. I enjoyed the author's analysis of how one choice made by their father touched so many lives. The author used her father's photo in front of the Serenity statue as the starting point for his family history and Serenity's influence on this family. The photos of Serenity through the years and those of the young family were a great addition to the text.

There were times when it was difficult to follow some jumps in the timeline. The author made a brief mention of her marriage and the birth of her children. After that, her children, Beth and Andy, only made brief appearances as secondary characters. I wondered if Serenity had any impact on Beth and Andy. I also found several grammar mistakes, which were mostly missing commas with only a few misspelled words.

The Clayman family belonged to the Mormon religion. The author included explanations of several main teachings of this religion. Readers will also read about the history of the church's founder, Joseph Smith, and how this group came to settle in Utah. A cousin invited one of the brothers to join a radical Mormon break-off group. The author detailed the events that motivated her beloved brother to join this cult and become one of their leaders.

I rate this book three out of four stars. The author wrote a compelling story detailing how the Serenity statue eavesdropped on a young couple in love and continued to influence Henry's choices through the years. This nonfiction story is a loving tribute to her family, which leads readers to reflect on the effect our actions can have on future generations. Sadly, I had to lower to score because of the number of errors I found in the text. Readers who enjoy memoirs and nonfiction books that follow family histories would enjoy this story. This book would appeal to people who study religions as the author has described several teachings of the Mormon Church. The book contains no profanity and no inappropriate scenes.

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At the Feet of Serenity
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Petruschka1
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Post by Petruschka1 »

Learning about the origins of the Mormon religion and its main teachings is a real plus of this book. The various family members seem to be very interesting characters.
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Post by Kennedy NC »

Sometimes seemingly unimportant things like posing in front of a statue and taking a picture can have very symbolic implications. Great review.
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Post by amrinzaeda »

I came in expecting this to be realistic fiction, but the fact that it is a real account of her family and their experiences makes it that much more interesting and meaningful. What a beautiful tribute to her family. Thank you for the thorough review!
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Post by Ellylion »

Sounds like a great read for all memoir lovers :) Also LDS Church is a great topic to explore! Thanks for this insightful review!
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Post by Precious Naiti »

This story touched my heart and i have nothing but sympathy for the father who has to take care of 5 children. The religion aspect of the book makes it all the more interesting. I would like to expand my knowledge on Mormons.
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Post by raluca_mihaila »

The legend of the title seems very interesting. I loved how Serenity's image is used to create continuity and meaning to the plot. Great job with the review!
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

Petruschka1 wrote: 03 Apr 2021, 09:48 Learning about the origins of the Mormon religion and its main teachings is a real plus of this book. The various family members seem to be very interesting characters.
The author showed how their religious belief affected their family life. It was quite insightful. Thanks for your comments!
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

Kennedy NC wrote: 03 Apr 2021, 11:20 Sometimes seemingly unimportant things like posing in front of a statue and taking a picture can have very symbolic implications. Great review.
This was an interesting perspective. I liked the way the author portrayed the two simultaneously through the years! Thanks for reading!
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

amrinzaeda wrote: 03 Apr 2021, 15:15 I came in expecting this to be realistic fiction, but the fact that it is a real account of her family and their experiences makes it that much more interesting and meaningful. What a beautiful tribute to her family. Thank you for the thorough review!
The author writes about her childhood, her parent's marriage, the deaths in the family, and what became of the children as adults. It was very enthralling. Thanks for your comments!
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

Ellylion wrote: 06 Apr 2021, 06:11 Sounds like a great read for all memoir lovers :) Also LDS Church is a great topic to explore! Thanks for this insightful review!
Yes. This book fulfills those two aspects for readers. Thanks for reading and commenting!
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

Precious Naiti wrote: 06 Apr 2021, 09:42 This story touched my heart and i have nothing but sympathy for the father who has to take care of 5 children. The religion aspect of the book makes it all the more interesting. I would like to expand my knowledge on Mormons.
You will enjoy how personal the author makes the story with her descriptions of their childhood! Thanks for reading and commenting.
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

raluca_mihaila wrote: 07 Apr 2021, 08:32 The legend of the title seems very interesting. I loved how Serenity's image is used to create continuity and meaning to the plot. Great job with the review!
It was interesting to read about the author's way of honoring her family through this comparison with the Serenity statue. I enjoyed the different photos she took of Serenity through the years. Thanks for reading and commenting!
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Post by Sou Hi »

Thanks for your informative review. I like books that address family love, so the story about Henry Clayland's and his descendants' lives seems interesting. And it looks like the statue of Serenity has a huge influence on the family.
kdstrack
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Post by kdstrack »

Sou Hi wrote: 07 Apr 2021, 21:27 Thanks for your informative review. I like books that address family love, so the story about Henry Clayland's and his descendants' lives seems interesting. And it looks like the statue of Serenity has a huge influence on the family.
The author describes an interesting connection between the family and the Serenity statue. I hope you have a chance to read about the Clayland family. Thanks for stopping by!
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