Book Review: Pearls on a String
Reviewed by Tomi Alo
A captivating historical fiction that uncovers family secrets and connects the past to the present
From the Great War to the Spanish Flu to the Second World War, those who lived before us had to traverse a number of hardships just to survive. Author Jane Merling thrives in her depiction of such strong, tenacious, and courageous people.
The novel is written from Sarah Langner’s point of view. Sarah is a young, independent, and successful woman living in the progressive 1980s. She works for an accounting firm and takes pleasure in assisting her clients with setting up their financial plans, leasing agreements, accounting procedures, and many other tasks that will make their lives easier.
Sarah moves to the beach following her separation from her husband, where she will rediscover herself and receive support from her two loving parents, her friends, and her occasional roommate, Zipper.
But when her parents decide to sell the house where her cherished late grandmother had lived for decades, she stumbles upon a mysterious box containing journals and letters belonging to her grandmother. As Sarah goes through the contents of the box, she uncovers many family secrets that will change what she thought she knew about her grandmother, father, and even herself. Though the book is from Sarah’s perspective, the story revolves mainly around the life of her grandmother, Augusta Langner.
The author’s style is simple, conversational, and thoughtful. Merling writes Augusta’s life with such eloquence, capturing a true perseverance and resilience in her character. Even though Augusta isn’t alive to tell her story, we can see much of her kindness, generosity, and positive attitude toward life. She inspires not only Sarah but those who later come to know about her story.
“Some people may think that what she did was wrong, but I admire her courage and tenacity. She came from a simple life but dared to take such a tremendous leap of faith. Such bravery in a woman, a young woman at that, was ground-breaking for those times” (pg. 235).
The novel also illustrates how the people we meet and surround ourselves with really matter. They can be the strength we need when going through difficult times or when we need motivation and inspiration. As Sarah sets out to find out more about the “cast of characters in her grandmother’s story,” she makes amazing connections that lead to the formation of lifelong friendships. They even help her overcome setbacks along the way.
“They welcomed me with their friendship and offered me a soft place to land during times of chaos and confusion, even if they didn’t know what I was going through.” (pg. 253)
Pearls on a String is a sweet and exciting historical fiction filled with love, strength, courage, tragedy, and humor. It even leaves readers with a satisfying and heartwarming ending. I would recommend it to those looking for a light, family-oriented historical novel.
Publisher: Baymar Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction
Print Length: 266 pages
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