Author: Jodi Lew Smith
Publisher: Caspian Press
Type of book: 1810, 1800s, secrets, future, treatment, fake currency, patent, travel, death, Native Americans, relationships, family, siblings, mother/daughter relationships, female and male roles, engineering
Year it was published: 2014
***Winner of the 2014 James River Writers Indie Novel Contest***
A young woman’s gift could weave together the fabric of a nation...
1810, upstate New York. 21-year-old Ella Kenyon is happiest gliding through the thick woods around her small frontier town, knife in hand, her sharp eyes tracking game. A gift for engineering is in her blood, but she would gladly trade it for more time in the forest. If only her grandfather's dying wish hadn't trapped her into a fight she never wanted: for a flax-milling machine that could rescue both her family and her struggling town. Perhaps making flax—which grows in the North—as profitable as cotton at a time when cotton had yet to become king. If only she wanted it. Torn between what she wants and what she owes to others, no one could envy the choices she has to make. Nor the need to elude a ruthless foe determined to steal the machine.
I'm sorry to say that I don't recall the characters's names, aside from the relationships to Ella. Ella is the main character, a tomboyish girl who is capable of traditionally masculine dominant work and is determined to succeed at whatever costs she can. There are also Ella's parents, her father a drunkard and abuser, and her mother, a sweet and gentle woman who is best friends with Ella's mysterious aunt. Ella also has two younger siblings, one a sister that's good at traditionally feminine roles, and then the brother who also proves to be capable as Ella. There is also a Native American man that participated in French and Indian War and has taught Ella and her brother about hunting, food gathering and so forth. There is also Ella's grandfather who desires to create the flax machine at whatever cost he can, and the mysterious aunt that is wealthy and has shady dealings with certain people.
Women are just as capable as men
The story is written in third person narrative primarily from Ella's point of view, although other characters such as the aunt and Ella's younger siblings also step in and narrate from time to time. There is mystery to the story and a very strong heroine is in charge who is capable of doing whatever she can to succeed and fulfill her grandfather's dream. While that is going on, the reader also learns about Ella's aunt and her shameful past as well as how this past affects her future.
(From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)
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I have to be honest in saying that American history, especially in 1800s, is not my forte, and the only knowledge that I possess of it is Civil War, although I do vaguely recall the brief mentions in school of some inventors and their tries at simplifying the labor that people had to do when it came to fabrics. I actually liked reading the book and learning secrets about the characters as well as some of the hidden backgrounds. What is also unique is that this story doesn't give focus to romance not as a plot or even a subplot! While there is some, the author chooses to focus more on the race against time as well as whom to trust and whom not to trust rather than building chemistry between the characters. While there is exploration of competition, fulfilling wishes, the author also weaves in the issues of currency, treatment of Native Americans and so forth which means that it will be a unique and unforgettable ride.
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)