Tag Archives: Rachel Linden

Book Review: Ascension of Larks

31 Jul

When globetrotting photographer Magdalena Henry loses the only man she’s ever loved, she risks her stellar career to care for his widow and young children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Maggie adores her life of travel and adventure. But she has a secret. She can’t let go of her first and only love, renowned architect Marco Firelli, now married to her best friend Lena.

When Marco drowns in a kayaking accident, Maggie rushes to the Firelli family’s summer home on San Juan Island. Once there she discovers that Marco was hiding something that could destroy his family. As fragile, perfectionistic Lena slowly falls apart, Maggie tries to provide stability for Marco and Lena’s three young children.

When Maggie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in the world’s most prestigious photography competition, she thinks she’s found the answer to their problems. Then Lena makes a choice with unexpected and devastating consequences, forcing Maggie to grapple with an agonizing decision. Does she sacrifice the golden opportunity of her career or abandon the Firellis just when they need her the most?

Gradually the island begins to work its magic. A century-old ritual to beckon loved ones home offers hope in the midst of sorrow. And a guilt-ridden yet compelling stranger hiding on the island may offer Maggie a second chance at love, but only if she can relinquish the past and move forward to find joy in unexpected places.

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in over fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her writing. She enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.

Rachel holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently she splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Budapest, Hungary where she lives with her husband and two children on the banks of the Danube River.

When she’s not writing books, Rachel loves exploring the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the art and architecture of Europe. To learn more about Rachel Linden, visit her at http://www.rachellinden.com.

My Impressions:

Ascension of Larks by author Rachel Linden is a beautifully constructed novel. Complex characters and plotting kept me interested and engaged. The setting of San Juan Island in Washington brought a richness and perhaps a bit of magic to the narrative. The themes of loss and aloneness will speak to most readers. This is a novel I loved, and I recommend it. The only drawback is the mix of spiritual elements that, while pointing to restoration and healing, for me, only presented a confusing message.

Maggie Henry travels to the only home she knows — the summer getaway of best friends Lena and Marco. But it is tragedy that brings her there. In the depths of grief, Maggie must navigate more and more loss as she attempts to help a hurting family. As the weeks go on, Maggie is confronted with the truth of her life and the road to healing she must take.

Ascension of Larks can be termed women’s fiction. The point of view is from main character Maggie. The story is told in a series of present day events interspersed with memories. All of the characters are well-developed and believable in their actions, motives, emotions, and flaws. No one is perfect, but all are perfectly human. Healing for photographer Maggie comes in the realization that she has been living life looking through the viewfinder of her camera. “It made her feel better to have her camera in her hands. Life made more sense when she could see it through a viewfinder.” (page 101) Maggie has unconsciously kept herself away from pain and messiness, choosing to document life rather than feel it. But life is messy and it does hurt, and aloofness from the world only isolates. Linden is a very talented writer and has created a book that is a joy to read.

Because of all the above, I would normally have given Ascension of Larks a highly recommended rating. But . . . the spiritual messages of the book are a mix of Christianity and manmade ritual seeking to make sense of the world. As a child, Maggie was hurt by rigid and legalistic church practices and attitudes that are definitely not Christ-like, so she is at once a sceptic and a seeker. The one character in the book that articulates God’s grace, does so in a round about fashion. I think this, combined with the other mystical elements, obscures the real truth. All of that would be okay if this book was marketed to a general market audience, but this is Christian fiction. As such, I think that it should have had a more definitive message. Obviously, these are just my subjective thoughts (make sure to visit other blogs on the tour for more thoughts and insights). The novel certainly made me think, and would make for great discussion for a book club.


Audience: adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to TLC Book Tours for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Tuesday, August 1stBook by Book
Wednesday, August 2ndReviews from the Heart
Thursday, August 3rdSteph the Bookworm
Monday, August 7thBooks a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, August 8thSuzy Approved
Wednesday, August 9thFrom the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 10thReading is My SuperPower
Monday, August 14thCheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, August 15thCafinated Reads – author guest post
Thursday, August 17thFiction Aficionado
Monday, August 21stDiary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, August 24thJust Commonly
Monday, August 28thJathan & Heather – author guest post

Top 10 Tuesday — The End of Summer TBR List

25 Jul

The past week has been crazy. My husband had a routine medical procedure that has proven anything but. A promised one day recuperation has stretched into a week. We are hoping and praying for the best, but the two weeks that are left before a return to the doctor seem more like a year away instead. All this to say that I would appreciate your prayers for my husband’s healing and patience for the both of us. 😉

Because of the stress and worry of the past few days, I am taking the easy way out this week and posting my TBR list for the rest of the Summer. Which books will you be reading?


End of Summer TBR List

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Cardiac Event by Richard Mabry

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Return by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck


What’s on your TBR List?