Book Review: The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

"Remember. . . never let anyone steal your dreams. You must guard them with all your heart."

Title:  The Writing Desk
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher:  Zondervan 
Release Date:  July 10, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Fiction / Dual-Time

Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny? 

There is just something about The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck that pulled me in from the very first page and continues until the last. I'll get right to it. The earlier part of the novel did drag a bit for me, but it was because I didn't understand, but the neat thing was it still held onto me without letting go. Or rather, I held onto it like I was mesmerized by the words and by the emotions of two very different, yet similar characters. Both Birdie and Tenley strive to find themselves in different times. Both strong female characters in their own way, but also a certain vulnerability that readers can relate to. 

"Birdie felt instantly a child again, ruled by a demanding if not harsh mama whose approval she desperately sought." 

I loved that this story focused on two writers which gave us readers a glimpse into a writer's mind. It's not necessarily taken from the author, but it helped us understand some of the thoughts behind it. And as a designer, I can relate based on the creative aspect of it.

"The writing, the process, the emotional mining of words proved to be her therapy, her way of commanding grief. . . but now that grief and pain were in her rearview mirror, Tenley found writing a chore. A strain. Void of creativity and inspiration." 

Then there's the matter of the desk. The desk that spoke louder than many of the characters but all in a quiet way. It shared stories, tears and history that like a novel, unfolds as we turn each page.  There's a bond that this desk held for each occupant. 

"Are we going to be good friends, desk?"

I love the humor we get in spurts from the characters. From Tenley, to Blanche and to each of the Sullivans, one can't get enough. "The Sullivans are the place to be on Wednesday night." And trust me, you want to join in on the fun.

"We've got potato salad here and, oh, my grandmother's baked beans recipe. It's better than kissing."

I'm equally in love with the romance aspect of the modern story of this dual-time novel. Tenley and Jonas' interactions are quite comical and with lots of wonderful insight. 

"'Got something in your eye?' 'No. I just can't wink.' 'Stop. Watch.' He stepped around in front of her, gazing down, smiling, then slowly, almost seductively, winked. Heart. Be. Still. 'Like that.'"

I've always thought I enjoyed Tenley's story much more than Birdie's, but then I realized at a specific moment in the story, that I've always placed an emphasis on seeking Birdie's story. I want to know what becomes of her, of her life, her love, her family and most importantly, her dreams. Just as Tenley gave me a light hearted interest, Birdie was what held me on. 

"Why must duty require me to break my own heart?"
"Those things fade. Glory fades. The excitement of a new love, of success, fades. Then what do you have? People come and go. They forget about you faster than they befriended you. All that matters at the end of your life is whether you loved others, gave generously, and had a faith that will carry you through to the next life." 

In all, The Writing Desk is a story of dreams, of life, of hope, but also of seeking without understanding. Trying to find who you are. There are stories to unfold, to discover and to make. Rachel Hauck gave us not only romance, which was fabulous by the way, but also a message of trusting in His mercy, of togetherness and of not being afraid of what the future holds.  Reading can be so subjective, and my thoughts and what I take from a story may not be the same as the next person. But I do hope that certain words will penetrate our hearts the same, and that each of us will pray these same words, "I'm yours, Lord. Even if I don't understand."  However way, do remember that "God's mercy cannot be quantified or understood. Just receive it."

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
Please note, all quotes are taken from ARC (essentially an uncorrected proof). Please do not share quote or if do, please make note that it is taken from an ARC. 
For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.



Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best-selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding DressLove Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans.  Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.  She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

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  1. "Are we going to be good friends, desk?" Oh my gosh, you have my full attention with this quote. I LOVE that she is talking to her desk like that!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    1. Right, Heather?? I just love that line. I mean I've said something similar to my books and bookish things... hehe.


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