Monday, February 27, 2023

Review Tour + #Giveaway: So Close to Heaven by Annette Oppenlander @Aoppenlander @GoddessFish

So Close to Heaven

by Annette Oppenlander

GENRE: Historical Fiction


A harrowing tale of a single woman's fight to preserve her beloved abbey, a tale of courage and perserverance - based on a true story.

South Tirol, Sabiona Abbey, 1796: Magdalena, a Benedictine nun, lives with her fellow sisters at Sabiona Abbey, a secluded monastery atop a cliff high above the Eisack valley and only reachable by a strenuous climb. In this simple life of work, prayer and reading, Magdalena feels safe from the world, assured that her secret will remain hidden forever.

Until one-hundred-seventy Tirolian soldiers demand entry, Napoleon’s army is almost upon them. As the world, Magdalena has so carefully built, crumbles, she must make a choice: leave the abbey to join her sisters at the bishop’s summer residence or fight to save it—even if it may cost her everything.

Purchase So Close to Heaven on Amazon


Sabiona Abbey, South Tirol, July 1796

I am sorting through my collection of tomato and pepper seeds in the greenhouse when Sister Adelheid rushes through the door. Her round face – everything on her is round, even her hands – is flushed as she cries, “Sister Magdalena, come quick. The Abbess needs you.”

I tuck my beloved seeds back into their box and follow Sister Adelheid uphill. She is huffing for air because the slope to the main house is steep. I am lucky to be used to it from my daily ministrations in the garden.

What happened?” I ask, but Adelheid just raises her arms, and the wind, which is brisk most times up here, makes her habit flutter and reminds me of the wings of a crow. She is quiet, even for a nun, and I quit pressuring. Even now, after all these years, the sin of impatience is difficult to master.

Abbess Mayrin already waits in the entrance to the main house along with the hulking figure of Chaplain Father Schweiggl. We may be a Benedictine abbey of nuns, but Father Schweiggl serves as our confessor. He dismisses Adelheid with a nod and waves me and Abbess Mayrin along.

We must pray, Sister Magdalena, for strength and wisdom.” Abbess Mayrin’s usually calm voice is strained and I recognize distress between her scrunched brows. They are thick and dark with speckles of gray like those of a man, but vanity is not something we subscribe to at the abbey.

Father Schweiggl remains silent, only flings up his hood to cover his shaven head.

Voices rear from beyond the walls, a lot of voices—the voices of men. How could I not have heard them earlier?

My Review:

So Close to Heaven tells the story of how a group of nuns fought to save their beloved home the Sabiona Abbey in South Tirol in 1796. French soldiers came in and took over leaving the sisters to defend for themselves.

So Close to Heaven tells Magdalena, a Benedictine nun’s story of how she defended her beloved home. It also gives us insight into her life before she became a nun.

So Close to Heaven is a horrific and beautifully told story that leaves hanging on every word as you race to the end rooting for Magdalena the whole way. So Close to Heaven is filled with lots of twists and secrets that it likes to hang on to revealing them slowly.

When I heard that Annette Oppenlander had a new book out I knew right then and there that I had to read it as I do enjoy reading her books. I love that her books are based on real-life places or events in history.

Once I pick up a book that Annette Oppenlander has written I can’t stop reading until I have read the last page and even then her stories stick with me for a long time to come.

I would highly recommend any book written by Annette Oppenlander! Grab a copy of So Close to Heaven today!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Annette Oppenlander is an award-winning writer, literary coach and educator. As a bestselling historical novelist, Oppenlander is known for her authentic characters and stories based on true events, coming alive in well-researched settings. Having lived in Germany the first half of her life and the second half in various parts in the U.S., Oppenlander inspires readers by illuminating story questions as relevant today as they were in the past. 

Oppenlander’s bestselling true WWII story, Surviving the Fatherland, received multiple nominations/awards. The recently translated German version received the silver Skoutz Award 2020. Uniquely, Oppenlander weaves actual historical figures and events into her plots, giving readers a flavor of true history while enjoying a good story.

Oppenlander shares her knowledge through writing workshops at colleges, libraries, festivals and schools. She also offers vivid presentations and author visits. The mother of fraternal twins and a son, she now lives with her husband and dog Zelda in Germany.

Connect with Annette Oppenlander

Website ~ Blog ~ Amazon ~ Email

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram


$15 Amazon/BN GC

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review and for hosting! I'll be around today, in case anyone has questions.

Rita Wray said...

Thank you for the review. Sounds like a good read.

Sherry said...

I love the cover and look forward to reading the book.