in name onlyEllen Gable’s second novel, In Name Only, was released only a month or two ago, and I have had my copy waiting not-so-patiently for me.  I really enjoyed her first novel, Emily’s Hope, and was looking forward to reading this one.

In Name Only is set in the late 1800’s in Pennsylvania.  Recently orphaned Caroline finds herself living with her uncle and cousin, and a romance blossoms.  Throughout the book, Caroline struggles with a variety of hurdles and challenges, and in the midst of appreciating the writing, I also was reminded that this house I live in was built in about that time period.

It’s easy for me to forget how different life is in 2009 than it was in 1878.  It’s so much more comfortable here, but I couldn’t help but notice how much less reading I do than Caroline did.  Granted, we have very different lives and responsibilities, but it was a welcome reminder to me, a chance to explore my own priorities through the lens of something other than a griping voice in the back of my head.

I was impressed by how Gable kept the lurid details from being the focus.  There were some opportunities when she could have — and probably would have, if she had been a different kind of writer — shared too much.  But she didn’t, and the book is better for it.  I won’t say too much more, because I hate spoilers in reviews.

All in all, a pleasant summer read, and a nice example of an author growing in her work.  With this novel, Gable’s writing matured and that the plot well-defined.  I enjoyed it, and I’ll be passing it around to the fellow readers in my life or encouraging them to get their own copy.