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The Lady of Bolton Hill (Thorndike Christian Historical Fiction) Hardcover – Large Print, 18 Jan 2012
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Hardcover, Large Print
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From the Back Cover
When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.But time has changed them both. Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers. Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts--and lives--hang in the balance? "Camden's evangelical Christian historical romance skillfully captures a fascinating period of railroad and other technological innovations, opium smugglers, and muckraking journalists in a dramatic tale of vengeance, ambition, and faith set against a backdrop of both privileged high society and working-class riots." --Booklist
"This very satisfying debut novel, about the power of faith and forgiveness, will surely launch Camden well into the midst of the field of inspirational authors." --Historical Novels Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master's in history from the University of Virginia and a master's in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in Orlando, Florida. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I honestly think that the opening chapters of this book--involving Clara and Daniel as teenagers, and then Clara imprisoned in London--were the strongest in the whole story. They sucked me in and intrigued me immediately, but the ensuing conflicts weren't quite as intriguing as the opening ones. The suspense and mystery in this book definitely kept me turning the pages, and I won't deny that the story is compelling, but the opening chapters were definitely the strongest out of the entire book.
I definitely enjoyed the details about Clara's work as a journalist and the issues with the labour unions, which I haven't come across much before in other novels from this time period. Female journalists certainly weren't all that common at this time, especially ones who delved into gritty issues like the ones Clara wrote about. Labour unions and child labour might not be the most romantic historical details to discuss in a novel, but they were interesting to read about.
While the villain of the story is disconnected from the other characters for the majority of the plot (which is initially a little confusing), he becomes more prominent towards the end of the story. I actually read the sequel to this book, Against the Tide, first, and I remember wondering how much of Bane's backstory is dealt with in the first book, since I found the details in the sequel to be rather vague. They're still pretty vague here, to be honest, and I think I probably prefer Against the Tide to this book. The second book goes into a lot more details about the opium trade, which I found fascinating.
I think what didn't work for me was the spiritual side of the book. Clara just seemed too pushy towards Daniel (and eventually Bane) to become Christians. I totally understand her concerns about marrying someone who doesn't share your faith (my husband wasn't a Christian when we started dating) but she seemed to approach the issue from a very simplistic manner, almost as if Daniel just needed to be told about Jesus in order to change his mind. It seemed to me that it wasn't that Daniel didn't understand how salvation worked--he just didn't think he needed anyone to save him because he thought he was in control of his life. I guess maybe it's just a personal thing, having been in a similar position to Clara--I would never have been as pushy as her, and probably would have tried to bring about more organic, realistic conversations about faith, rather than just constantly telling Daniel why he needed to become a Christian.
In spite of these complaints, Daniel's eventual conversion to Christianity felt a lot more realistic than Bane's change of heart. Daniel needed time to come to his own decisions about God and the role he would play in his life, and the gradual changes Daniel made over the course of the book felt believable considering his past attitudes. Bane, on the other hand, shows no signs of wanting to escape his criminal lifestyle until Clara challenges him, and his turnaround felt far too quick for me to believe it genuine. Perhaps if there had been some hints that he wanted to escape his life of crime but couldn't, I would have found this part of the story more realistic.
On another note, I would love to read a book about Clara's brother, Clyde, who works as a doctor for various Native American tribes in remote locations. His disconnect from his family's lavish lifestyle and society's treatment of him definitely intrigued me. I think he's more my kind of hero than either Daniel or Bane! I hope Elizabeth Camden decides to give Clyde his own story some day.
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book and I think I'd give it 3.5*. The storyline was certainly interesting and compelling, especially the suspenseful parts, but the spiritual side didn't feel very realistic and was more in-your-face than I usually like in my Christian Fiction. I'm not sure if I would have been so eager to read more of Elizabeth Camden's work if I'd started with this book. Against the Tide contains much stronger writing, and The Rose of Winslow Street is by far my favourite of her books so far.
The rest of the story takes place twelve years later. The historical settings felt real, and the dialogue came across as authentic. I liked Clara, and found Daniel believable if rather hard-headed and materialistic. I was less convinced by the other, more minor characters.
However my biggest problem with the book was the sudden development of a completely different sub-plot, part way through. It involves some opium dealers, and a particularly unpleasant and amoral teenage boy known as Bane. When the two storylines combine, the book descends into melodrama… oddly mixed with evangelism.
The resolution of the story’s climax feels bizarre, and that's writing from the perspective as a Christian who has no doubt that God can do anything. For those without faith, approaching this as a historical fiction book, the ending would seem unrealistic and contrived in a ‘deus ex machina’ style.
So I can’t give this any more than three stars, despite it being very well-written and with a great sense of the historical context. I'd say it's worth reading, and very interesting in places, but I’d have liked it better (and believed in it more) if the story involving Bane had not been there at all.
But I read Against the Tide before this book which was a mistake as that book had a much more interesting heroine and hero. Bane, the baddie in this book - underworld Dr*ug Lord and all round bada$$ is the hero in the next book and is just much more dark and dangerous than the characters here.
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