I’ve long known of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s seminal novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and even read it many years ago.All That Makes Life Bright, by Josi S. Kilpack

I never gave much thought to her, though, outside of the fact that she wrote a classic novel that gave scathing insight into American slavery before it was culturally acceptable to do so at all — much less as a woman.

When All That Makes Life Bright came to my attention, I was immediately intrigued. What was life like for Stowe, and what kind of man was her husband that he allowed it at a time when men literally could cast their wives out and no one would blink an eye?

Josi S. Kilpack has done a masterful job bringing these people to life. While it would have been easy to vilify Calvin Stowe from a modern standpoint for having expectations of what his wife was to do, Kilpack instead masterfully balances that with the kindness and love Stowe he has for his wife.

Harriet is not presented as flawless, but rather as a real human being learning how to balance her independence and her relationship with her husband and child.

One of the thing that I love about Kilpack’s work — I am familiar with the author, having read and reviewed her previous novel, The Vicar’s Daughter — is how immersed she makes you feel in the times and places in which her stories are set, and All That Make Life Bright was no different.

The setting was drawn wonderfully and the historical details sprinkled throughout the story make it that much better.

Those who enjoy Syrie James’ The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen or novels based on the lives of historical figures definitely should look into All That Makes Life Bright.

All That Makes Life Bright was released by Shadow Mountain on Sept. 5. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but all opinions are my own.

About Josi S. Kilpack


Josi S. Kilpack began her first novel in 1998.

Her seventh novel, Sheep’s Clothing, won the 2007 Whitney Award for mystery and suspense.

She currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband and children.