Beneath the Splendor


Fiction - Historical - Personage
620 Pages
Reviewed on 07/06/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jami Taylor enjoys writing in various genres. If it's interesting, pleasing, frightening, or haunting, she's open to writing about it.

Her primary works are in Historical Fiction with supernatural or paranormal elements. Having grown up in the American South, there was rarely a story told in her family that didn't involve ghosts or magic, and this is reflected in her work. She has also published Science Fiction in historical settings and pure Fantasy Fiction.

In addition to traditional full-length novels, she is keen to provide short reads to her online audience, either as stand-alone stories or as part of a series. Sometimes a quick read is exactly what someone needs in today's fast-paced world.

She is a full-time Humanities faculty member at a local college in southeastern Virginia where she lives with her husband, daughter, two spoiled dogs, and a mischievous cat. If she could fit a Friesian in her back yard, she would definitely have one.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

In 1853, a much-loved reverend is being tried for murder in the fictionalized true-crime novel, Beneath the Splendor by Jamie Taylor. While visiting her cousin, Elizabeth Carawan takes the maid's twelve-year-old daughter, Mary, to be her personal maid. Having grown up in servitude, Mary is enchanted by the beauty and splendor of her new home, and entranced by the handsome and charismatic Reverend Carawan. Several years later, when Elizabeth falls ill, Reverend Carawan seduces the awestruck Mary. After he discovers Mary is pregnant, Elizabeth suddenly and conveniently dies. Three days later, the reverend marries Mary. However, the happy life she is promised is never realized. Instead, Mary endures violence and hatred. When a schoolteacher enters her life, Mary begins to dream of escaping. Can he help her start a new life? Or will Reverend Carawan destroy all their chances of happiness?

Based on actual events occurring over a century ago, Beneath the Splendor by Jamie Taylor stunningly portrays the mind and actions of a psychopath. Skillfully executed, it is an extraordinary tale regarding the lasciviousness of deviant human nature. Set in the late nineteenth-century, the dramatic plot captures the nuances of that era, creating a realistic and believable story. Well-developed and relatable, the characters' psychological aspects form true to life actions and reactions to their situations. Reverend Carawan's character is a splendid representation of a depraved mind and the epitome of an immoral soul. A literary gem, this is a stirring tale of domestic violence, infidelity, and murder, with a hint of the paranormal woven into the storyline. I highly recommend this captivating novel to everyone who enjoys a historical thriller. Due to the violent and sexual content in some of the scenes, this novel is more suitable for mature readers. An elegantly rendered piece of literary perfection.

Viga Boland

“A man is allowed to discipline his wife. It is man’s law and God’s law.” So fumes the highly respected, revered, and handsome Reverend George Carawan when school teacher Clement Lassiter admonishes him for brutally abusing Mary, his dutiful wife, in Beneath the Splendor by Jami Taylor. Set in 1853, this superb fictionalized account of a true story not only shows how historically entrenched male dominance is in men’s psyches but also how perceptions of others can be thoroughly distorted and inaccurate when it comes to those in any positions of power. Back in 1853, it was especially applicable to bible-thumping, charismatic pastors the likes of Reverend George Carawan!

If you enjoy historical fiction...and sometimes it’s such a refreshing change from contemporary novels...and if you’re a believer in women’s equality, you will pick up Beneath the Splendor and not be able to stop reading till the story is finished. As a young girl, Mary is a servant to Reverend Carawan’s sickly wife who suffers one miscarriage after another. Desperate for a son, he turns his lust-filled thoughts to Mary. Charmed, as most women are by the handsome Reverend’s attention, she is soon pregnant and as soon as his wife dies, for the sake of propriety, the Reverend marries Mary. But her marriage is a charade. He continues to consort with prostitutes and others...as he’s always done...and when she too miscarries, her life as the pastor’s wife becomes hell. She ultimately finds love with the gentle Clement Lassiter but Lassiter’s hopes of saving Mary and taking her away from this brutal, loveless marriage end in disaster.

Jami Taylor is an author worth getting to know. Her handling of plot and dialogue leaves nothing wanting. She tosses in some supernatural that is almost believable, and her characters are beautifully created and developed. Mary, Reverend Carawan, Clement Lassiter...all of them come alive on the page: I often felt like I was living Mary’s life, sharing her pain and growing abhorrence of her husband. More than once, I shook my head in dismay at the reverence Carawan so undeservedly received from his parishioners. As you read Beneath the Splendor, don’t be surprised if you too find yourself wondering how much progress we really have made since the mid-1800s. Some novels are so good you keep finding other things you’d like to tell readers in a review. Beneath the Splendor is one of those but you need to find that out for yourself. Brilliant writing and I can’t wait to read another book by the talented Jami Taylor!

Deborah Lloyd

At the age of twelve, Mary was hired by Elizabeth Carawan as her domestic servant. She left the protection of her mother and moved to Pine Manor in Rose Bay, North Carolina. Although Mary saw how demeaning Reverend George Carawan could be to his wife, she also felt attracted to the charismatic minister. Elizabeth was unable to carry a pregnancy to term which infuriated George. When Mary was nineteen years old, after Elizabeth’s death, she and George were married soon thereafter. She gave him his first son. However, her dreams of living an affluent lifestyle soon vanished, as George became increasingly violent. When the local schoolteacher moved into their home, more assaults occurred. In the historical novel, Beneath the Splendor, written by Jami Taylor, a riveting story unfolds.

In the 1850s, a husband had the right to rule over his wife and household. Although some church members noted their minister’s proclivities, others continued to find him endearing. When he was eventually charged with murder, jailed, and tried, people were divided over his guilt or innocence. The author has interwoven court records, newspaper articles, and factual information, with creative imagings, to build a heartrending, believable story. Apparitional appearances add a mystical element to the plot. The book is fascinating and hard to put down once started. Author Jami Taylor has crafted a captivating historical fiction novel in Beneath the Splendor. It is a poignant portrayal of this era in the South, as it describes the state of marriages, slavery, and the justice system. An excellent book!