Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Writer's Review of “A Lasting Impression" by Tamera Alexander

A Lasting Impression was a good, long book. It was much longer than any of the other books I’ve read by Tamera Alexander. And I know, from being in her session at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference in September, that when she’d originally submitted the manuscript to her editor, it was near 160,000 words. Maybe it was the fact that I knew the book had been pared down to a “measly” 130,000 words that kept me at bay all these months. I received the book (from Bethany House, in exchange for a review) in October... which happened to be a pretty crazy month for me. I began reading A Lasting Impression the first of November first, directly after emailing my partial proposals off to the two agents who’d requested them at the conference. After spending those last two weeks of October working on them, I thought, “Okay, the proposals are out! Now I can sit back and relax!”

Wrong. I had two agent contracts in my inbox by the end of that first week of November. Ever since then I’ve been taking every spare moment I could grab and putting it to refining my manuscript. And sadly, I was already short on time, since I was baby-sitting a two-year-old and an infant for over 45 hours a week. (Fortunately, starting in January, I’ll have Mondays off—PRAISE THE LORD!!!!—until June, when I will be completely free to write to my heart’s content for days and weeks on end again!!) Anyway, there were a lot of factors in my not reading this this book very quickly. I just want you all to know that it had nothing to do with the quality of the book. It was long—so that made it all that much more difficult for me to plow through when so many other things have been vying for my attention—but it is also very good.

A Lasting Impression was much different from most of Tamera Alexander’s books in many ways. Even though some of the characters in this book know of the characters in her other series, this one took place in a completely different kind of world than the rest. Instead of back-woods westerns, this one took place in the booming town of Nashville, Tennessee. Another thing that was very different in A Lasting Impression is that the two main characters, Claire Laurent and Sutton Monroe, were in love and courting throughout most of the book.

One concern I had at the beginning of the book was that I felt as if the reader had been brought into the story a bit too early. I understand now why Tamera Alexander wanted us to “be there,” but still—there were so many pages between that first scene and the last scene that I really wasn’t all that concerned about the “secrets” Claire was withholding from everyone in her “new life” throughout the book.

I think, had the book begun with Claire meeting Sutton in the church, perhaps, the reader would have been able to pick up everything they needed to know little by little throughout the rest of the book, and the book’s word-count could have been cut down considerably. This is just my writer’s brain at work though—everything about A Lasting Impression was lovely and well written just the way it is. I know from being at the conference that Tamera Alexander had had a very trying year as she wrote this book, so I cannot imagine how she did it—especially at the length in which she did!

Bethany House Publishers supplied me with a paperback version of this book in return for my honest opinion of the book. I give A Lasting Impression 4 stars.


Brandi said...

I want to say congratulations again on the agent contracts, Dawn! It's a big, exciting step towards your book being published. Enjoy!

Thanks for the review. I've been eyeing this book every time I browse the inspirational fiction section. Given the word count, though, I may have to put off reading it until March, when things wind down for me.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Dawn you won in the Seekerville New Year's Eve Contest and I can't find any other contact information for you. Tina Radcliffe for Seekerville

Italia said...

I enjoyed the way art was almost a character in the story. It really was that much a part of the story, but it wasn't forced or silly and fake. It was simply a part of the world of this girl and the woman she worked for.

Most of all, I enjoyed the struggle that Claire went through inside herself. I am a Christian, but I actually shy away from Inspirational authors, as I do NOT like being preached at in my fiction reading. Tamera Alexander did not preach. She merely recounted the journey and struggle that Claire went through, and she did it in a delicate way that did not preach or push anything on the reader. I reality, I think this internal conflict was a much larger part of the plot than the conflict between Sutton and Clair.

Dawn Crandall said...

I agree with you, Italia. I think it is very important to not "preach" while writing fiction. I love the aspect of telling (and also reading) a story about the life of a character who learns more about God and His truth through their journey and the struggles they deal with.

Thanks for stopping by!