The Best of Times is a LDS novel by Anita Stansfield. The title suggests the Dickens angle, and this book will please fans of Charles Dickens with all the references to the great writer. It is the story of how one staunch believer and one non-believer meet each other and contemplate building a life together.
The story is set in a small town in Montana. Chas is the owner of a Victorian bed and breakfast – the Dickens’ Inn. The property is dated, and her ancestors actually knew Dickens in England. Every room is decorated based on a certain book, and the atmosphere is authentic. Chas has a troubled past, and is very close with her elderly Granny. Jackson is a FBI agent going through a rough time, and comes to the Dickens’ Inn for some peace and quiet. There is an instant connection between Chas and Jackson which they try to ignore.
The story started out really great. The description of the inn was interesting. The writing was poignant. But the book seemed to lose steam somewhere down the middle. Once the couple accepts they love each other, they have a mountain to scale. They both have different faiths and are not sure how it will affect them in the long term. Jackson has a job far away, and is duty bound to complete his pending work. Supporting characters like Granny, friend and office manager have appropriate space in the story. Will the pair be able to spend Christmas together? And who will have to sacrifice his/her present for their future?
The Best of Times has introduced me to the work of Anita Stansfield. I am pleased with the writing, and although this book did not turn out as I expected, I am eager to read some of her other titles. What can I say? The beginning of the book was so good that I built up some ‘Great Expectations’!