Author: Sarah M. Eden
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audio, eBook, Print
Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
The life of an impoverished schoolteacher is not one Evangeline Blake would have chosen for herself. Torn from her home and her beloved sister and sent to work in the gritty factory town of Smeatley, Evangeline must prove herself to her grandfather, a man who values self-reliance above all else, before he will grant her access to her inheritance. Raised to be a lady of refinement, she hasn’t any of the skills necessary to manage on her own nor does she have the first idea how to be a teacher. But failure means never being with her sister again.
Alone and overwhelmed, she turns to the one person in town who seems to know how she feels—Dermot McCormick, an Irish brick mason who is as far from home and as out of place as she is. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot’s tentative friendship deepens and grows. Her determination and compassion slowly earn her the faith and confidence of the skeptical residents of Smeatley, who become like the family she has lost.
But when a secret from her past comes to light, Evangeline faces an impossible choice: seize the opportunity to reclaim her former life and rejoin her sister or fight for the new life she has struggled to build for herself—a life that includes Dermot.
I have to say that I have enjoyed all the Eden books I’ve read but I’ve enjoyed some more than others. As I look back I can see the ones that are not my favorites are the ones that deal with impoverished people as is the case with this book. It is just so hard for me to watch people suffering so about 2/3’s of the way through this book I began to wonder if I was going to like this book at all. I was hating the people who held the power and feeling terrible for those who were doing the best they could which was never enough. The children were still hungry, the sheep still died of disease, the mill was still a terrible place to work etc….. So the author was painting a pretty bleak picture and did so successfully. That is good right? She wanted us to feel the pain of the situation and I certainly did.
So in the end, did I enjoy this book? Actually I did. There was finally light at the end of the tunnel and I could breath easy once again. Life would still be difficult for these people but there was hope. Hope of a better day. Hope of love. Hope of family. Hope to endure. Hope to succeed. Hope. One thing we all need in life, impoverished or not, is hope. And hope is exactly what I felt by the end of the book.
I read a review where the person stated that a woman couldn’t have behaved in that time period as Evangeline did. But I don’t think that is true. If no woman had ever stood up to be heard we still wouldn’t have the vote today or rights to property etc… A woman somewhere had to make that stand so I think that Evangeline could have done it.
Dermot I wasn’t too sure about. He wasn’t very likable and I wondered how Evangeline could begin to care. The only sign of him being a good human was how he treated Ronan. That made it obvious that he is a good person. But he had put up huge walls to protect himself from the ill treatment he received from most of the town. So in the end, I decided that Evangeline probably could see past his crusty exterior.
I thought the way they treated Ronan was interesting. During that time period they would have known nothing about autism and that is likely what he had. I can see how it would have been easy to hide the odd person away in the attic so to speak but that wasn’t a consideration for either Ronan or Evangeline’s brother. I hate to think what might have happened to Ronan had Dermot not stepped in to take custody of him though. I can’t imagine he would have lasted long in an apprenticeship situation with a non-caring task master.
As for the horrid aunt and the indifferent uncle, I was so relieved to see people finally standing up to her. What a hateful person. There was hope that perhaps the uncle would stop ignoring the aunts terrible behavior and insist that she make an attempt at civility toward people.
So in a nutshell, yes, the book was difficult to read because of the pain and suffering but it was also so filled with hope that I could feel happy in the end.
No sex, language or violence
This book is evidence of just why I love this author’s writing! Even though the tone in the beginning is despondent as Evangeline mourns her family and struggles with her new circumstances, it shows how much she grows and how time slowly heals. She does not seem particularly strong or skilled, but her compassion and newfound grit serve her well as she continues to make the best out of what she’s been given. Dermot surliness brings out her sassy side and I loved seeing their relationship develop from neighbors to unlikely friends to sweethearts. Each person in the wide cast of characters from the community are vibrant and easy to picture, and I especially enjoyed the Yorkshire way of speaking and their interesting phrases and names for things. The setting was very much a big part of the book and it felt a bit like one of my favorite movies, North and South. I liked that it was set in a smaller town though, which gave it a more cozy feel and less industrial. I have a soft spot for stories with teachers that care so much for their students, and Evangeline’s determination to do the best for her students, despite her lack of training, is admirable and endearing. I was completely immersed from the get go and was happy that the initial mood of desperation slowly gave way to hope as Evangeline lifts herself with the help of Dermot and discovers her own fierce nature and strength.
You’ll love this book if you love the TV show “When Calls the Heart”.
Evangeline whole family (except her youngest sister) all die from a fever and her higher class life as she has known it is ripped away.
She is left alone and struggling in a small unfriendly town trying to be a school teacher (when she herself as never even been to a school). She learns a lot; not only how to cook and clean, but how to love, survive, and stand up for herself and others.
This was a clean, non-religious Romance with a strong female character whom I enjoyed.
Another beautifully written story by Sarah Eden. I love how she has such relatable characters with flaws and areas that they need to improve and grow in. In this story Evangeline and Dermot are thrust together and neeed one another in order to survive/make it in the world that they find themselves. While not fond of each other at first, love soon blossoms and forms a bond so sweet and pure until a secret is revealed that may shatter all that they have together.