I am a sucker for historical fiction. I love it almost as much as I love “living history” museums, where people dress up in period clothing and do things that seem crazy to us today but were necessary for comfortable survival in Days of Yore, like canning applesauce in a waterbath over a bonfire in the middle of August while wearing a full-length skirt and multiple petticoats. (Actually, I can’t vouch for the survival value of that last bit.) To me, any work that can evoke the sense of a time gone by, that can make me feel like I am there, is a delight.
Holly Weiss’s Crestmont is a delight.
Crestmont is the story of the eponymous inn, which is located in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania and which had its heyday in the 1920s, the time period featured in the novel. We’re introduced to the Crestmont Inn through the eyes of Gracie, a young lady who leaves home to become a singer and stops for a few seasons to work as a housekeeper at the Crestmont and save some money.
Meanwhile, the inn itself does a thriving summer business, but needs updates and improvements. Its owner-operators, William and Margaret Woods, are full of ideas and goodwill but short on cash – until Margaret discovers a letter, left by her late father, directing her to a hidden stash that the Crestmont’s creator put aside for precisely this purpose. Work begins apace as Gracie joins the local church and begins to make friends – as well as romantic interests – among the Crestmont staff and in Eagles Mere at large.
Gracie wants to be a singer, and serendipity is with her when she meets the legendary opera singer Rosa Ponselle, then star of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Gracie’s own birth family is drifting away from her, but in the staff and visitors at the Crestmont, she begins to find a family composed of those who love and enjoy her for who she is – or, as Richard Bach put it, one tied together by “respect and joy in each other’s lives.”
Crestmont is ideal reading for those who want to get away to a simpler past and enjoy the relationships fostered by good will and hard work in the Pennsylvania countryside.