Books are one of the best and most affordable ways to escape the drudgery of the all-too-well-known details and predictability of our own lives. “Crestmont” by Holly Weiss was an escape of the best kind, where the reader is glad to be able to get away to a different place and time, but also delighted to return back to their own after having finished it. Well, let me rephrase this just a tad. This reader was delighted to return to her own world after having finished reading the book, but saddened that the book was over and definitely hungry for more of the story.
Grace Antes, a young girl in her twenties, decides to leave her rather unhappy home and make her way to the big city. She wishes to pursue a singing career, but she is realistic enough to recognize her need for more funds before trying her luck in the big city, so she accepts a job as a housemaid in the very busy Crestmont Inn, situated at Eagles Mere in Pennsylvania. There she encounters not only a cast of uniquely wonderful characters, but also acquires a new family and a new understanding of herself. Gracie, as she decides to call herself, is both refreshingly naïve and charmingly eager to learn; and she lets no opportunity to acquire new insights pass her by. “Crestmont” describes daily life at a large inn in wonderful detail, and Ms. Weiss brings an army of characters to life in vivid colors (and sounds!). With a cast this colorful and charming, it would be impossible to pick out a favorite. Would it be the wise and patient Isaiah, the talented chef, or his charming and insightful wife Olivia, the dressmaker? The dashing PT, a man with great talent for music and decidedly checkered past? The woefully overworked, but always considerate, Mr. and Mrs. Woods, the owners of Crestmont? Their two charming daughters? The famous opera singer, Rosa Ponselle, who does not find it difficult to be kind to those less fortunate? The list goes on and on, and I have to admit I found each and every one of the characters lively and intricate. Another item that I simply have to mention – the poems by the “Paperbag Poet.” While I do not want to disclose more about them here, I would like to say how they warmed my heart.
If the story seems to lose steam now and then, maybe because there are just so many wonderful details to be told, and if the ending leaves all too many questions unanswered, it still left me wanting for more. Who in the world is Eric Sturdy and how did Gracie meet him? What happened to PT? I hope that Ms. Weiss is planning to write another book, and that she will answer those questions there. In the meanwhile, I would like to highly recommend “Crestmont” to readers who enjoy reading well researched, credible fiction and who long for slower, gentler times. They will definitely find a respite on the pages of this delightful book.