Monday, April 28, 2014
Longing for Home book review
Twenty-six-year-old Katie Macauley has placed all her hope in Hope Springs, a small town in the 1870 Wyoming Territory. But if she wants to return home to Ireland to make amends with her estranged family, she'll need to convince the influential Joseph Archer to hold true to his word and keep her on his payroll as his housekeeper despite her Irish roots. The town is caught in an ongoing feud between the Irish and the "Reds" the frontiersmen who would rather see all the Irish run out of town and the Irish immigrants who are fighting to make a home for themselves in the New World. When Joseph agrees to keep Katie on as his housekeeper, the feud erupts anew, and Katie becomes the reluctant figurehead for the Irish townsfolk. As the violence escalates throughout the town, Katie must choose between the two men who have been vying for her love though only one might be able to restore hope to her heart.
My Review: 6.75/10
My very first thoughts on reading this book were not favorable; the opening chapter that sees Tavish and Ian giving Katie a ride did not impress me. I thought Tavish's thoughts and comments were repetitive and based on nothing. Not to mention the way he kept stating the obvious. Tavish was way too interested, way too soon. I just didn't find it believeable. I was about ready to turn this one in as one I couldn't finish, but for some reason, I pressed on a little longer. I'm glad I did.
While Tavish never gives up on his relentless pursual of Katie, you quickly spend a lot less time in his head, which makes his interactions more charming than shallow.
Ms. Eden does a good job of providing hard choices and real struggles. Romantically, it didn't seem like an easy choice for me, except for the fact that Joseph wouldn't let Katie know of his feelings. But there was plenty to love in them both, from her point of view.
Her ultimate choice between Hope Springs and Ireland was not an easy one either.
And no easy solutions for the problems in Hope Springs were offered either.
And then, we finally get the whole tale of Katie's past. That's not easy either. The way it was built up, I kept expecting the author to have built in a loophole, something that would remove all blame and guilt from Katie's shoulders, where her family was concerned. I expected it, but it never happened, fortunately. Her past was understandable, but she still placed reasonable blame on herself. I was really proud of Ms. Eden for giving her characters real problems, real struggles, real regrets. These things build character in a person, making them interesting, unique, and hopefully full of integrity and strength. She allowed Katie the time to earn the reader's compassion and respect. That is not easily done nor common enough.
I rated this book the way I did because though I enjoyed it (I really loved the Irish infusion, the dialogue, the history, the details, everything. So well done!) and thought so much of the plot and characterization well done, I had a criticism for every compliment.
I didn't understand why Joseph thought he could court Katie after she moved out. How did he think that would go with the Reds? Seems to me it never crossed his mind, which was totally out of character.
And with all the power Joseph held, and he held it all, why did he not demand peace, require civility, fair prices, no violence/harassment, etc as part of terms of lease? If anyone violated it, they would be given a warning and then, if it continued, they'd be evicted. Seems plenty simple to me.
Why were there no lawmen to enforce anything? I understand that it was a territory, but if they could have a church with a pastor, they could have a sheriff or deputy or something and a jail, even if it was only a one room holding cell.
Why did it not occur to Katie herself to ask Granny about staying there, especially as she'd just spent time with her, reflecting on how much help Granny needed?
At the time, I was wondering why there was so little reference to God and why Katie didn't pray and seek out the Bible for answers, and now I'm thinking, this may not have been a Christian based novel. I'm not sure, so I'm going to discount that.
When it came down to it, I thought Katie flipped from being annoyed with Tavish to being super into him, just a little too quickly. If I remember correctly, it really happened when he saved her by dancing in her stead. I thought that was well done, certainly the kind of thing to turn a girl's head. But Katie seemed to flip too easily (and often) in general for me. First Tavish, then Joseph and back and forth and back and forth (though it did seem that her preference for Tavish was always stronger and present, which appeased me). Then it was leaving Hope Springs, then talk of staying for years, then leaving, then staying, then leaving and ultimately staying. Too much, too easily flip flopping. Perhaps this was supposed to be a character flaw of hers. I'm not sure.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this book. It was interesting, stuffed with history and authenticity, and a sobering taste of realism. The things I loved and the things I thought could have been better put aside, the book left me wanting more. Will Katie ever learn to read? How will the Reds and Irish find peace? What will happen with Katie's family? What will happen with the new housekeeper? What will happen with the Archer family? What will happen way down the line with Finbarr? These are just a smattering of the things I'm dying to know and the character's I'm invested in. This book will draw you in and hold tight.