Morning Glory

Morning Glory - LaVyrle Spencer Orphan. Bastard. Convict. Woman-killer. Boy. Will Parker has been called every name in the book, none of them inaccurate and all of them unflattering. Drifting into Whitney, Georgia in the summer of 1941, he's just been fired from the local sawmill on account of his stint in prison for killing a woman in a Texas brothel. Bone-thin from hunger and wearing clothes stolen from a local's drying line, he decides to answer a woman's newspaper ad looking for a husband. The yard may be full of junk, the house a jumble of additions and the prospective wife a very pregnant mother of two who's known to the townspeople as "Crazy Elly," but he sees only an opportunity for redemption.The man walking up her drive looks as beat down as a man can get, but with two young boys and a third child due in a few months, Eleanor Dinsmore's willing to take any man willing to do a man's work around her house. Widowed when her dreamer husband falls from a tree he was cutting - onto the beehives he kept - she's left with a ramshackle house set amid the piles of junk, scrap and salvage her husband collected aimlessly. Much as she loved him anyways, the realities of running her home with three small children demands she find a helper, and fast.What an amazing, well-written story this was. Spencer created such lush imagery, it felt like I was seeing the story, rather than reading it. I could all but smell the northwestern Georgia woods Eleanor's house lounged in and hear their bees buzzing about the junk heaps that dotted the yard. A passage early on in the book stood out for me in how it took something as mundane as carrying firewood and managed to make it visual and sensual:He knelt and loaded his arm with wood - good, sharp, biting edges that creased his skin where his sleeve was rolled back; grainy flat pieces that clacked together and echoed across the clearing.Much of the book is written like this, drawing a full picture that's a feast for the senses. When I can hear each bootstep and see the motes dancing in the sunbeams, it heightens my sense of immersion and turns the volume up on the emotions.And emotion this book has. Both Elly and Will are drenched in feelings, both for each other and about themselves. They've come from dreadful, unloving childhoods - Will growing up in indifferent orphanages and foster homes and Elly living in a windowless house with her pious grandparents castigating her for being born out of wedlock - and are both learning to value themselves. They surprise each other a bit, I think, with how they seem to balance each other out. Will gets in Elly a rare friend and lover, but also a bit of the mother he never had. Elly gets from Will a friend and lover as well, sure, but she also gets needed confidence and a challenge to overcome her fears.They work through their insecurities, weathering childbirth, WWII and a murder trial along the way, to come out stronger, healthier people in the end. It's a slow-moving, slow-burning sort of romance. They're continually growing together as the story progresses, rather than feeling an immediate passion which they then actively resist. It's an organic story of two people weathering the challenges life can throw at people and coming out stronger because of it.It was a delight to read from start to finish. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who loves a story of two broken souls healing each other and a story that doesn't end with the "I love you" or the "I do."