Searching: The Sweetest Hallelujah

I’m always thrilled to read stories of readers being really moved by a book, being drawn in and touched by the plight of the characters.  It’s not surpising then that I very much enjoyed today’s review from Kate, of the wonderful period piece The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey (Harlequin)…

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It is 1945 in Mississippi, America is in the midst of racial violence and prejudice, it’s the time of KKK, lynch mobs and segregation. It is here we meet the once beautiful and renowned jazz singer Betty Jewel Hughes, who, now ravaged by cancer, is desperately and heartbreakingly looking for someone to take care of her 10 year old daughter, Billie, when she dies.

sweetestRecently widowed Cassie Malone lives on the ‘good’ side of town and despite her wealth and white upper class privilege is outspoken and sure of her beliefs against racial discrimination.

Desperate and feeling helpless Betty Jewel does the unthinkable and puts an ad in the local paper:

Desperate. Nowhere to turn. Dying woman seeks mother for her child. Loving heart required….

Cassie has had her fair share of heartbreak, and unable to have her own children is instantly captivated by the ad. Billie herself just wants to be a ten year old girl, playing hopscotch and dolls without having to think about her mama dying. She sets off on her own adventure to find the man who she believes to be her father, hoping that he might be able to take care of her and make things better.

Against all odds and a society that is defined by racial tension, a remarkable friendship is forged by an unrelenting quest to protect and save a little girl. Elaine Hussey has written a beautiful portrayal of friendship and love and the bond that can be formed between women amidst heartbreak and betrayal.

Littered with reference to the brilliant jazz musicians of the time against a backdrop of the beautiful American South, we are transported though time and place to another period altogether.

The characters are believable and memorable, and the story is written with humour, heartbreak and at times, brutal honesty. The Sweetest Hallelujah is a lovely read, but you will need a box of tissues at the ready! If you loved The Help and The Secret Life of Bees, this book is definitely worth the read.

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Find out more about The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey here…