Select one of the keywords
The Dwelling Place    by Elizabeth Musser order for
Dwelling Place
by Elizabeth Musser
Order:  USA  Can
Bethany, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

At twenty, Ellie Bartholomew feels like a failure. She has always been the rebel in a successful family. Her sisters have careers and families, her loving parents are stable and happy, and her mother, Mary Swan, is a famous artist.

Ellie has long struggled with her identity and with a substance abuse problem. She is finally getting her life back on track, with a decent job and a future as a veterinarian. Yet a problem threatens to topple Ellie's shaky foundation - her mother has cancer and is not doing well. Ellie must face her difficult relationship with her mother, marred by an accident many years before. Will Ellie be able to forgive Mary before it's too late?

This novel continues the story begun in The Swan House, which featured Ellie's mother, Mary. Ellie is very fragile, rebelling against a life she once viewed as perfect, but later found out is not. Ultimately, the story is an examination of a mother-daughter relationship and how our perceptions of events change as we mature. When Ellie allows herself to confront the past, it helps her to move forward. Her faith journey is realistic and heartwarming.

One drawback is that the account moves very slowly through the first half. Much of the backstory, needed to understand Ellie's pain, isn't revealed until much later in the book. This mystery detracts from the overall flow of the story. The plodding pace frustrated me - a shorter book would have kept interest fresh. However, the mother-daughter relationship and their gradual reconciliation in The Dwelling Place is true-to-life and should appeal to readers.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews