The Orchard House – Heidi Chiavaroli

The Orchard House Heidi Chiavaroli
The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli
Published by Tyndale on February 9, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Historical
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Concord, Massachusetts
2001Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott's historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria's betrayal changes everything.
1865While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa's aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa's words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan's proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband's dark side, and she can't hide the bruises that appear.
2019After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett's cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong.

I found in the pages of The Orchard House a story I didn’t even know I needed to hear. Heidi Chiavaroli’s amazing tale started out a bit slowly for me, but its tremendous lesson spoke to something deep within me.
Chiavaroli gives us two wonderful time lines, one of which is a brief peek into the life of Louisa May Alcott and her contemporaries. But in the contemporary storyline, we have Taylor, who was adopted as a young teen by her best friend’s family. But she was never sure she truly belonged. She spent many years in doubt, and even left behind her family because of those fears of not truly belonging. She was very much a character I could identify with. Deep down, all of us, if we’re honest, are searching for a place of truly belonging. I’d like to share this quote that sums it up so well:
“I think perhaps that I have been looking all these years for some thing that was not so far away. And no, I did not mean (name hidden to prevent spoiler), for he too will no doubt eventually fail in his own way. I am talking about a bigger place to belong – in the arms of One who not only tells me not to fear, but who, in the midst of my failures, has loved me and given me a worth beyond measure. In this, I find both liberty and home – two things I once thought opposites but I now see are not so very different.”

In the historical time period, we’re given the story of Johanna Suhre, a friend of Louisa May Alcott. She goes to stay with Louisa’s parents so that Alcott can take a trip to Europe. It is during this time that Johanna goes against warnings from her friend Louisa and falls in love with the neighbor.

In the present day, Taylor and her sister/friend Victoria are digging into the life of Johanna and trying to determine what happened in her life, and all they have to go on is a few old documents they discover that were hidden all those years. This storyline was also very intriguing to me. As a longtime fan of Little Women, I greatly enjoyed reading more about her life. I think this is a story that needs to be read! So, so good!