Summary from BN.com: The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream—and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client. Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?
I have been a HUGE fan of Siri Mitchell's historicals (as well as her other books) so I was so excited to hear about her new book. I always recommend her books to readers whether they read Christian fiction or not because she is one of those authors who I feel crosses markets. Many readers I have chatted with have said that they enjoyed her style of writing and comment on how they didn't realize that a book with faith elements could be written so well. I loved this book so much. It is exactly what I want from a historical fiction book that has romance in it. I'm hesitant to classify this book as a historical romance. It didn't really read like many historical romances that I've read but at the same time there's more romance in here than in other straight up historical fiction. Either way Mitchell skillfully blends the two elements of historical research and romance together into a sweeping read that just pulls you in from the beginning.
The story is set up in a narrative that is different from most books. There's a unnamed narrator who talks about the three main girls. Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana are all very different in personalities but they have several common threads (pun because they work in a dress shop) that they share. I really enjoyed seeing them become friends and putting aside any harboring feelings that originally had when meeting each other.
The romance in this book made me swoon. I am normally not a big romance fan at all, I usually roll my eyes because the romance scenes are very unrealistic. Therefore for a book to make me swoon must be written extremely well. I loved seeing the girls all discover a suitor in the the most unlikely of circumstances. My absolutely favorite was Annamarie's with the Sicilian grocer. The unspoken affection simply through actions made me sigh. Seriously, I have not read anything that romantic in ages. All three of the girls had wonderful descriptions of their relationships. They aren't fairy tale, happily ever after type of romances but they are realistically portrayals of true love. The other love story in this book involves one that didn't necessarily have a happy ending and is rather bittersweet. In fact it's rather sad and heartbreaking but it's real life.
Mitchell always does a good job with her historical facts and it shows up again in this book. Since the story takes place in the immigrant section of Boston, lots of descriptions of the type of housing and the poverty level is mentioned. I believe also that this is one of the very few Christian fiction books that I have read that talks about anarchism. I found those bits to be really interesting because of the historical aspects that would come into play with WWI approaching in the future. There's not too much history to bore readers who only wanted romance but at the same time for those who like their stories meatier, the facts are fascinating.
Faith elements in the book are present but shown more in a historical presence. Interestingly, since the women are Italian, they are Catholics and therefore attend mass, go to confession and talk to priests. This is interesting because the book will most likely be read by those who are Protestants so it will be good to learn more about Catholicism.
Overall this is one of most satisfying reads that I've read in a long time. Everything I wanted and needed was in this book. As I said before it's rare for a book to include romance in it and make me sigh with content. This book is going to be one of my top reads of the year. I cannot wait for Siri Mitchell's next book to come out because I know that it will be fabulous, just like this one. VERY HIGHLY recommended.
A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell is published by Bethany House (2011)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance