This is the story of Molly McGarvie and her survival in 1838 in St Lawrenceville, Missouri where everything she holds dear and true and loves is taken away from her and her strength in human nature and god is tested.
Happily married to Samuel, with three children, James, Franklin and Louellen with another one on the way. Molly’s life is perfect in her eyes. She tends to her family and their needs and has the support of Betsy who was gifted to her when she married. They are as much friends as they are mistress and servant, master and slave for Betsy is coloured and Missouri is a state where slaves cannot be free.
On the sudden death of her husband, Samuel, Molly finds that his family do not stick together and that far from helping her, Samuel’s brother forces her to take stock of her life and try and build a new one elsewhere. Molly’s conscious is pricking as she believes that she could have helped save her husband if she had got a different doctor to him in time. As she leaves she also has to give up Betsy as well, but is determined to buy her freedom, for her own benefit not for Betsy’s.
On the journey to build a new life in a new settlement Beldon Grove, tragedy and joy are not very far away. Upon settling Molly tries to break free of the constraints of living with her brother and starts to make her own way, with the help of her loom and the cloth that she can weave and sell for cash or barter to make ends meet. Molly starts to become the local attraction for eligible bachelors both young and old but she cannot think any further than restoring her family together and that includes Betsy.
A beautifully written book, with a beautiful background setting. The descriptions of the settlements, the vast outback, the cattle even down to the slaves and the Red Indians are all covered in detail but at its heart this book is filled with romance. Upon reflection, it has a lot of references to religion and God but for me it was not off putting and I did not feel I was being constantly preached at from the pages of the book. It fitted in the time period of the book and the behaviour of the characters and such was an asset. Although it is a romance, and predictably you can see the outcome, it did make you think about Molly’s motives and actions some of the time, especially in relation to Betsy her selfish need did not make her see the bigger picture. Are we not all guilty of that at some point in our lives?
A new genre for me to discover and now I am hooked about what happens at Beldon Grove and want to find out more.
I admit I would not have read this book if it was not for the fact that it was free when I came across it on Amazon, it has since gone back to its Kindle price of around £7.69. It was a gem of a book to find for free and I was surprised by it. It was not until I started it did I realise, that I was in the America of old, where land was bought and settled on, and were people came and towns began to grow. Rather tongue in cheek all I could think of was Carry on Cowboy
and was this how the town looked? All joking aside, I was actually surprised by the book and felt that I had learnt quite a bit about late 1830s America. I have no idea of whether any of the book is historically accurate, but I certainly came away with a greater sense of the place and I have to confess a slight fascination with the period. Along with this and the romance, the book sits in the Historical Romance category nicely.
Strangely enough, this book brought back reminders of Katherine Webb’s The Legacy which I have just recently read and reviewed, there are sections in that book set in America, although in a much later time period the history and background were familiar.
This is the first novel by Ann Shorey and on her website she uses the tag line “Yesterday’s Women – Today’s issues”. Thinking on this small statement, the book is very much that. Yes there are issues that in the main the women are dealing with which are of their time, but there are others like the death of a husband, the birth of a baby, illness of a child, how to survive which transcend all history and time are relevant today. I would love to read the two subsequent novels, which make up this series, but they are currently a bit too pricey for me to buy. If they suddenly became free on the kindle, I would have no qualms and downloading, reading and reviewing.