Happy Wednesday, my friends!
I hope you are a good hump day 🙂 We are trying to stay dry this week but are loving the ongoing rainstorms we’re having!
Today I am reviewing Josi S. Kilpack’s Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton. This was my third novel in Kilpack’s historical proper romance collection (I couldn’t read them fast enough) and I really enjoyed it! Another gorgeous love story about a literary couple.
**Spoiler note** I find that when reviewing romances, I often share more spoilers in my reviews, especially a brief explanation of how it ends. I feel this is useful in discussing the novel as a whole and I often find that I know how these books will end before I get there. If you want to simply read this novel for yourself without any known details, please do not continue my review until you’ve finished. Then lets chat about it 🙂
- I first saw this novel in an ad from Deseret Book several years ago. I was excited to find out it is at my local library!
- After The Lady of the Lakes, this is my favorite novel that I’ve read by Kilpack. Okay that’s hard to say because I also loved All That Makes Life Bright. I can say that I enjoy all of Kilpack’s novels!
- I am inspired to read more poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. All of Kilpack’s literary romances have made me want to read more by the authors she focuses on. The verses quoted in this novel were beautiful and passionate. In fact, I’ve added a collection of Longfellow poetry to my Classics Club list! Looking forward to reading more of his work!
Forever and Forever by Josi S. Kilpack follows the story of Henry Wadworth Longfellow and his 7 year courting of Fanny Appleton. Goodreads summarizes, “It’s 1836, and nineteen-year-old Fanny Appleton, a privileged daughter of a wealthy, upper-class Boston industrialist, is touring Europe with her family. . . . Published author and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is also touring Europe, but under much different circumstances. Widowed while on tour, he has stayed in order to gather credentials that he hopes will secure his professorship at Harvard College. When Henry meets Fanny, he sees in her a kindred spirit, a lover of language and literature and high ideals. He is in love. Fanny, however, is uncertain. He is ten years older than she is, and from a much lower social class. How could such a relationship ever thrive?”
The scope of this novel is impressive. It takes place over the course of 7 years but still flows well overall. Sometimes, the events in certain chapters are separated by many years. I was impressed by the way Kilpack creates a coherent story that doesn’t feel too disjointed. But it’s not perfectly done. Several times I had to turn back to double check the time difference and location changes between chapters. They both travel to Europe several times during the novel. And sometimes I wanted more details from a certain time in their lives. Overall, I think the breadth of time covered in this novel makes the climax more satisfying. We have read about all the time that passed as Henry sought Fanny’s love. That long journey to true love makes the discovery of it all the more beautiful.
“Some part of me must have known just holding you in my arms would feel exactly like this. “
Forever and Forever, page 298
Like with many good love stories, I hoped I knew the end from the beginning. Since even the title refers to Fanny and Henry’s courtship, I was pretty certain that they would end up together. But wow, what a journey to get there! I love the romantic climax of the novel. There were so many obstacles, so many times that I thought they couldn’t end up together. And yet, they find each other in the end. Theirs is really a beautiful love story.
Henry and Fanny are very different characters which I found both enjoyable and irritating. Between their age difference (10 years) and class difference (Fanny comes from a very wealthy family while Henry is an aspiring college professor and writer), they quite a bit not in common. Fanny is naive and stubborn early in the novel–often I was surprised by how rude she was to Henry. On the other hand, Henry was idealistic and even unrealistic with how easily he thought Fanny could be won. However, even with my varying reactions to their personalities, I admired the ways Henry and Fanny changed. They learned to forgive each other. They both overcame devastating loss of loved ones. And, best of all, they both turned to God for understanding of how to find meaning and peace in their lives.
“But should not women have as much opportunity as men to expand their minds, and would that not expand their lives and influence just as it does for men? …… I would submit that every human would benefit from reading about the world, whether they will ever see it or not.”
“That is the beauty of poetry, Fannie, ordinary words bound together with heart and soul and measure.”
“Here come to realize that while he may never be cured of what distressed him, he could rise above it.”
“She was coming to accept God’s will and was realizing more and more that his path was the better one.”
Forever and Forever, pages 54, 120, 265 & 277
One of my favorite parts of this novel were Henry and Fanny’s literary and education conversations. These conversations surprised me. While Henry and Fanny had made differences, they were equals in their love and appreciate of literature and education. I really enjoyed the way they discussed the importance of education for men and women. And especially appreciated the way Henry championed education as a role of mothers. In the end, this connection between them was more powerful than their class differences or their age. And I really loved that.
I am so glad that I discovered the historical proper romances of Josi S. Kilpack! This one is another beautiful love story. I appreciated the scope of this novel and the literary minds of both Henry and Fanny. I especially loved the ending when the two of them finally understood each other and embraced their love. A darling love story that historical fiction fans will love!
What are some of your favorite historical romances?