Beyond All Measure
In 1871, penniless Ada Wentworth journeys from her home in Boston to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, to take up a position as a lady’s companion to the elderly Lillian Willis. Determined to do well in her new post, Ada nevertheless dreams about establishing a hat shop and becoming an independent businesswoman. Ada soon befriends Lillian’s nephew, Wyatt Caldwell, owner of the local lumber mill, with great plans of his own. Ada also befriends Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. This friendship, however, causes much talk in the town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon Sophie, her growing love for Wyatt, and her business dreams.
While a typical and predictable Christian romance, the historical elements of a town still struggling to change with the times added interest to the story. The main characters were a bit unconvincing, though: for example, Ada never seems to grow. She has big dreams and hopes to change the townspeople’s prejudices, but she never actually does anything other than make hats. Ada and Wyatt do eventually both learn lessons about trusting in God, and each other, which creates a simple, satisfying, and tidy conclusion.