Riveting Canadian tale: "A Haven for Her Heart" by Susan Anne Mason
Upon her release from a woman's reformatory in 1941 Toronto, Olivia
Rosetti wants nothing more than to forget the horrors of her time there
and return to normal. But with her family unwilling to forgive and
employers wary of hiring her, she quickly ends up desperate and
homeless--until a chance encounter with well-to-do widow Ruth
Bennington. The two discover they share a painful history and together
decide to open a maternity home for troubled women.
Greek widower Darius Reed is determined to protect his daughter from the prejudice that killed her mother and hopes to marry into a prominent Toronto family. But when his employer orders him to persuade Ruth Bennington to sell them her property, Darius soon becomes conflicted over his feelings about the home and his attraction to Olivia.
Despite finding fulfilment in her work, Olivia must fight not only bitter memories and the community's negative reaction to their mission, but also feelings for the man who is trying to close her home. Can love prove stronger than prejudice and societal pressures, or will past mistakes destroy her chance at true happiness?
As a Canadian reader, I must admit that I was both horrified and inspired to find out that this story was crafted from pieces of reality from Canada's past. In our modern age, it is difficult to imagine how a father could make the decision to have his daughter arrested for the reasons that he does - and shocking that such a law allowing her arrest was actually in place! I hesitate to say more because I don't want to give away pieces of the plot, but suffice it to say that there were times I wanted to throw the book across the room because of the injustice of it all. That right there is a sign of a good novel, one that engages both the mind and the emotions and causes you to care deeply about the characters as you journey with them through the pages of the tale.
Though horrified by parts of the story, I was inspired by the strength of Olivia's character at the same time, for her resiliency and perseverance in the face of loss. Watching her blossom over the course of the book, and discover God's grace and love flowing from others towards her, was heart warming to behold. The romance that unfurls between Olivia and Darius feels natural and oh-so-right, and you can't help rooting for them in the midst of the twist and turns of their relationship.
Ultimately, I closed the pages of this book feeling like I had been blessed, discovering that though there is another dark side of my country's history I was unaware of, that right alongside it there is evidence of people fighting for good at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed "A Haven for Heart Heart" and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.