- Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group (Sep 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425192113
- ISBN-13: 978-0425192115
- Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.8 x 2.4 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,040,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Jesse Spotted Horse is a man on a mission. When the funding comes through to film his documentary about the tragic circumstances of the Indian schools, he naturally picks Dubois Military Academy as the most likely to research. He has promised his grandmother he'll uncover the truth about what really happened to their ancestors who attended the school. Jesse doesn't expect the prim and proper Kathleen Prescott to be so defensive about her great-great grandfather, the Reverend Providence Divine, founder of Dubois. Can she be so blind to the facts in front of her that the Indian children were forced into the white man's world, far different from what she's been led to believe?
As Jesse sets up a scene in the Dubois barn for the film, having somehow talked Kathleen into participating, a mysterious fire breaks out, and dense smoke surrounds the two. When the smoke clears, they find themselves transported back in time to 1886 Dubois. Will the culture shock and reality of the times pull these two closer together, or tear them further apart? And how will they get back to their own time?
Kathleen and Jesse are perfect foils for each other, however, I found Kathleen more suited to Victorian times than modern. She dresses and acts the part, which makes it fairly easy for her to adjust to the customs of 1886. Jesse, too, seems to accept his fate fairly easily. I had to take into consideration all of the research he had done, and surmise that he was prepared to suffer indignities in order to survive. Ms. Aitken also creates a secondary cast of characters varying from very naive to very nasty. Dark secrets, betrayals, and greed abound.
I have to say DISTANT ECHOES is one of the more emotional reads I've come across in a very long time. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are heartbreaking, as is most of the story. Ms. Aitken, herself a Native American, writes with an intensity rarely found in most Native American romances. Thankfully, she inserts some humor where needed so as not to bog the reader down with overwhelming sadness.
I recommend DISTANT ECHOES as a heartfelt treatise on the injustices served the Native American people during the 1800's. That said, I will warn readers that this is not an easy tale to read. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy -- especially toward the end.
Jesse meets the museum curator Kathleen Prescott whose family goes back several generations to when the founder ran the school. She believes her ancestors were caring individuals trying to help while he feels that they destroyed families and individuals. When they begin filming, suddenly smoke breaks out. When it clears the two combatants find they somehow are back in 1886 where both will learn the truth about the salad days of the DuBois Indian School even as they fall in love with one another.
This engaging time travel romance is at its best during the squabbles over what happened as handed down by generation to generation by the lead protagonists' respective families. As Jesse and Kathleen observe the truth, their misconceptions seem foolish, adding to a historiographic feel to the plot. Though the time travel device remains shaky, the use provides the audience with a deep look at a questionable practice from a bygone era.
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