Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice Review
“The various members of the McCullough family are portrayed with careful detail and some moments of unexpected humor, but it’s the tortured John Weldon who commands the book; his slow and halting search for personal redemption makes for mesmerizing reading.
. . . extremely evocative.
. . . a long and very satisfyingly complex novel. “
Amazon Customer Reviews
*****Amazing historical novel. This writer had me captivated and inspired from the very first page. The love story, hardships, and true depiction of life in the army base in Arizona all served to enlighten me about a time in history I never fully understood.
*****A story of love, forgiveness and redemption.Let’s cut to the chase: I absolutely loved this book.
When I started Adrienne Morris’s novel,’The House on Tenafly Road,’ I imagined it would be similar to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ – not that it was a children’s book, but I suspected it would be a gentle story of one family’s struggles as they coped with life at an Army fort.
Well, it was indeed a story about an Army family assigned to a fort in Indian territory after the Civil War, but it was more than a gentle recounting of that family’s experiences. ‘The House on Tenafly Road’ is a realistic, at times grim, portrayal of love, forgiveness, and redemption. It also offers a searing look at how often we end up hurting those we care most about.
John Weldon comes out of the Civil War a morphine addict thanks to terrible wounds he sustained in the Battle of the Wilderness. A child of a drunken mother, Weldon hates that he’s addicted to morphine. He tries repeatedly to overcome the addiction. When he meets his Army friend’s sister, Katherine, a girl of good family from Englewood, New Jersey, he sees qualities in the young woman that make him love her. Those qualities also convince him that she can help him stay away from the drug that seduces him. He marries her, refusing to share with her the knowledge of his addiction. As a result, Katherine never truly understands the moods of despair that drive her husband and that, eventually, play terrible havoc with their lives.
Katherine’s father disapproves of her marriage to Weldon, whose parentage is half Indian and half British. The older man is unhappy that his daughter and her children will end up living far from home, and that Katherine will have a harsh life as the wife of a solider in Indian territory. He sees Indians as savages, and this often causes him to act badly toward his grandson, William, whom he loves very much. The boy’s unhappiness and sometimes unruly behavior, a result of traumatic events experienced during his parents’ unhappy marriage, cause his grandfather to grow angry with him and label him a savage.
Sometimes one loses patience with Katherine. She’s a strong character, and a complex one. She is deeply flawed. She has great passion for her husband, but her inability to truly understand him leads her into despair. She experiences a terrible loss, and the loss drives a wedge between she and her husband that takes years to overcome – and rends the fabric of their little family, leading to much unhappiness for their boy.
Weldon is also a strong character, and fully drawn. He loses faith – in himself, in those that love him, in his God. He escapes his unhappiness in the morphine which he cannot give up, no matter how good his intentions. His unwillingness to confide in his wife wars with his need for the drug. He drives away those who love him with his black moods, his addiction, his need for secrecy.
I said this was a tale of forgiveness and redemption. It is that, but it is a long, hard road before the main characters achieve grace and renewal.
One thing from the book that will stay with me is something Weldon says to Katherine toward the end of it. It seems he has finally regained his faith and he remarks that ‘God shows his grace in chance meetings…’ and he goes on to talk about meeting Katherine’s brother and, as a result, meeting her, and how profoundly happy she made him in spite of all the tragedy the two endured.
I like the idea of God showing his grace in chance meetings, and I can think of a few examples where that has been true in my own life.
How good is this book? I had about two hundred pages remaining to finish it last evening. I was so caught up in the story that I stayed awake until 3:30 in the morning to see how things would turn out for Katherine and Weldon.
‘The House on Tenafly Road’ concludes on a hopeful note. I like that. There are no easy answers… just hope. Isn’t that how life is?
***** “A modern triumph! An odyssey of addiction and deceit, Morris’ The House on Tenafly Road delivers on all levels. While spanning many different topics and characters, the text never becomes cluttered, and the messages never muddled. A beautiful work rich with emotion and an uncanny understanding of mankind, including its flaws. The novel, a triumph of writing, with characters that leaves readers desperately seeking their next fix.”
***** “A rich and colorful page turner. Morris has a fine sense of time and place and brings her memorable characters to life. She also tells a captivating story. You won’t find it easy to put her book down, and her characters will stay with you when you do. We can only hope she keeps writing and gives us more episodes in this fascinating chronicle.”
***** “This has been one of the few stories that has moved me to tears. I suffered right along with characters through all of their failures. I wish only that we could have taken Kate and John just a bit farther in their story to a point where we felt they were truly healed and solidly together again as a loving family.”
***** “I Loved this Book! Couldn’t help but feel like I knew these characters……I hear there is possibly another book, I hope so! this is one of those books that you just don’t want to end!”
**** Engaging trip back to post Civil War and the West. I really enjoyed this novel set in the post Civil War North and the American West. Interestingly drawn locations and characters really shine as Adrienne Morris takes a frank, unflinching, look at what it was like to live in less than pleasant conditions as a horse soldier and his family. Nicely done historical fiction in an era that is seldom covered. Looking forward to the next book by Morris.
***** “I LOVED this book! Great characters and compelling story, that leaves you wanting to know what will happen next in their world. I can’t wait for the next installment, and another opportunity to travel back in time!”
***** “I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down! I hope to read some more of Adrienne Morris’ books. She makes you feel like your right there. I’m rating this A1! Would be great if its made into a movie!”
“I have thought about your wonderful book many times. EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO FOLLOW YOUR BLOG! I am not a “that would make a great movie” person, but in the case of your book it would make a great movie.”
***** “The Only Thing You Should Be Reading Right Now. Love stories with enough hardship to keep you interested and enough triumphs to make it worth it are hard to come by. The House on Tenafly Road shows that this combination is very possible. Adrienne Morris brings characters to life in a way that not many authors do and because of this, the writing stands out from the rest.”