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Book review: ‘The Anniversary Waltz’ is a heartwarming story

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"The Anniversary Waltz" is a novel by Mormon author Darrel Nelson.

“The Anniversary Waltz” is a novel by Mormon author Darrel Nelson.

book cover

"THE ANNIVERSARY WALTZ," by Darrel Nelson, Realms, $13.99, 293 pages (f)

Canadian author Darrel Nelson delivers a heartwarming romance in his new release, "The Anniversary Waltz."

Nelson, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opens the novel with a couple gathering with their children and grandchildren for their 60th wedding anniversary celebration. The couple tell their children and grandchildren the story of their love that they share, and the reader is quickly carried back in time.

The narrative flashes back to 1946, when one of the main characters, Adam Carlson, is on his way home from the war. He abandoned the family farm to fight in the war, and he is reluctant to return home and face his father. Adjusting to the rhythm of town life after living as a soldier, he meets Elizabeth, his childhood friend, at the dance. She is practically engaged to the town banker, Nathan Roberts, and thus begins the conflict.

The story engages beyond just the love story, with plenty of intrigue and adventure. Adam adjusting to civilian life continues to process his experiences with death after the war and after the loss of loved ones back home. Just when the plot appears to be identified, there is a dramatic turn of events that changes everything in the life of each of the other characters.

The story is family friendly, but probably only enjoyable for older adolescents. There are references to World War II, and there is a fairly intense car accident scene. The romance stays sweet without being explicit, tender as the waltz that begins and ends the book.

Thick with descriptive exposition, this story is sentimental in its post-war backdrop. Real life challenges the main characters and their friends and family, and much of the story includes the internal responses to these experiences. Character depth comes from this reflection and the relational development amongst them. This gives an experience of washing through every emotion possible, while weaving in hope through the authentic struggle of each character.

Emily Christensen, Ph.D., lives with her husband in Oklahoma. Her doctorate is in marriage and family therapy, and she is pursuing a degree in Hebrew and Jewish studies. Her blog is www.housewifeclass.com and her email is housewifeclass@gmail.com.