4 out of 4 stars
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At the Feet of Serenity by Eve Gwartney tells the story and the personal interpretation of the experience of the Clayland family. It all started at the feet of Serenity, a statue placed in 1925 at Meridian Hill Park in Washington D.C. At Serenity's feet, Henry and Grace spoke words of affection and commitment and made plans. Grace and Henry were married and had five kids together. She died after she gave birth to the author.
The destruction Serenity faced over the years parallels all that the Claylands as a family encountered after Grace's death. There was an exciting connection between Serenity and the family. Grace's death took a heavy toll on Henry. Losing his wife and at the same time gaining the sole responsibility of raising his kids made him distraught to the point of psychological dysfunction. Everyone in the family, including the new wife Henry married, was affected in a particular way.
This book depicts how seemingly unimportant things help in significant ways to tell our story. The author used her father's photo taken in front of Serenity as a starting point for how it all began. Her father's journal-keeping habit helped a great deal. She learned about her mom through the letters her mom wrote and the pictures that her father kept.
In all truth, the book is a perfect tribute to the Claylands family. I have nothing but sympathy for Henry, who had to take care of five children all by himself, resisting all forms of assistance from everyone until it was apparent that he needed them. It wasn't easy on the kids either.
The author's inclusion of basic knowledge about the Mormon church is a big plus to the book. The sermon of the church at Grace's burial was spellbinding. It was full of lessons and wisdom, showing the church's stand about the after-life. It also talked about the history of the church and how they came to settle in Utah. I'm not a follower of the Mormon church, but it was intriguing to be drawn into their practices in an unforceful way. I'd do more profound research on the church, thanks to this book.
If you're looking for a better understanding of how a parent's choice affects their children, At the Feet of Serenity is an excellent go-to resource. Henry's lifestyle, including his religious beliefs, action, and inactions, shaped his family.
I was particularly drawn to the style and language used by the author to tell the story of the family's ordeals. She narrated her family's story with good history and realistic dialogue. Her description of Serenity's desecration over the years and the sad look on her eyes was top-notch. The pictures she shared provided an air of authenticity.
I'm rating this book four out of four stars. The editing is professional, as there's only one minor error in it. There's nothing I dislike about this book. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy memoirs and books about family history.
At the Feet of Serenity
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