In early June, 1860, Abigail enjoyed a peaceful home life with her parents, younger sister, and twin toddler brothers. Their home in Camanche, Iowa, where they’d emigrated from Pennsylvania, was almost complete and her beau, Joseph Sund, had recently proposed marriage.
That changes the evening of June 3rd when a tornado rips through town, killing her parents. At the mass funeral for the over two dozen people who perished in the storm, she learns Marty Cranson, with whom Abigail witnessed Joseph having a heated argument, died, but at the hands of a person rather than the tornado.
In addition to being faced with raising her young siblings, Joseph has disappeared without a trace and a stranger, Marshall Stevenson, appears, offering to help Abigail repair the families’ home and cultivate the newly planted farm crops.
Abigail, while developing romantic feelings for Marshall, tolerating the scorn of town woman Pamela Mackenrow, and working as a seamstress and storekeeper to support her siblings, becomes obsessed with finding out who killed Marty, hoping that and not that he no longer loved her, was the reason Joseph left without saying goodbye.
I cannot imagine the terror of living through a tornado like that. And when I had 1 year old and was pregnant with my 2nd child, we had to get into the bathtub with a mattress over our heads due to tornadic activity. We've never suffered the loss of a loved one.
So I give Abigail HUGE props for stepping up after the deaths of her parents. She worked and provided for a nine year old younger sister and twin brothers who were even younger than that. And having a broken engagement the day before the disaster, well, that would have been the straw that broke the camel's back for many.
The biggest questions remaining from the story center on Joseph. In light of the tornado, if he wasn't dead, why didn't he at least send word that we was ok? He couldn't have been far enough away by the time the twister struck to have not heard of it. And if he didn't love Abigail, why did he propose in the first place? If he were a real person, and it was 1860, I'd be sitting down with him and having a little heart to heart, Kentucky style. Some of his actions seem not much better than those of Marty Cranston, and we know what happened to him.
Camanche, IA, seems to have had at least its fair share of bad behavior, if not more. Pamela Mackenrow judged Abigail for having a man live on her property to whom she was not married and spread vicious rumors around town when she should have been tending to her own glass house. Even Abigail was not immune...after all, she went into the Mackenrow home and retrieved Pamela's diary after having left church feigning sickness. (And in case anyone is wondering, I am no angel myself. I'm as human as the next person.)
Taming the Twisted draws readers in both by the heartbreaking and the heartwarming. After the tornado, doctors and other people come in from all over the area to help the town repair and rebuild. At the mass public funeral, the names of those who died due to the twister were read. I probably would have been sobbing before they got to the names of the second family.
And the simple family moments in Abigail's household, both before the tornado with her parents, and after, with her siblings and Marshall. When Abigail mentioned the anniversary of the tornado was approaching and that the number of experiences that were no longer 'the first time since their parents died' were dwindling...I think I actually brought my hand into my heart. I remember marking time like that after each of my parents passed.
I wasn't looking to be enchanted by a book this week, but Taming the Twisted made it happen.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Jodie Toohey is the author of four additional books, two poetry collections – Crush and Other Love Poems for Girls (2008) and Other Side of Crazy (918studio, 2013) – as well as two novels, Missing Emily: Croatian Life Letters (2012) and Melody Madson – May It Please the Court? (2014).
When Jodie is not writing poetry or fiction, she is helping authors, soon-to-be-authors, and want-to-be authors from pre-idea to reader through her company, Wordsy Woman Author Services.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via the Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours in exchange for my objective review.)