Tuesday, March 19, 2013

REVIEW: Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage

 Synopsis: Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother’s nose.  In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the Colony of Virginia, there to be sold as indentured labour – a death sentence more or less. Matthew arrives in Virginia in May of 1661, and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his tale of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything Matthew’s insistence that he is an innocent man leads to him being singled out for the heaviest tasks. Insufficient food, grueling days and the humid heat combine to wear Matthew down. With a sinking feeling he realizes no one has ever survived the seven years of service – not on the plantation Suffolk Rose, not under the tender care of the overseer Dominic Jones. Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife, a God’s gift who has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die, and so Alex Graham sets off on a perilous journey to bring her husband home.

Alex is plagued by nightmares in which her Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. She sits in the prow of the ship and prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side, to let her hold him and heal him before it’s too late. God, however, has other things to do and what should have been a two month crossing becomes a yearlong adventure from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Will she find him in time? And if she does, will she be capable of paying the price required to buy him free?

My Thoughts:  When I first started reading Like Chaff in the Wind, I was worried it would be a little too much like the much loved Outlander series given that both center on a woman from the future who time travels and  falls in love with a Scottish man from the past and both face many trials and tribulations together.  I am happy to say that despite the very loose connections in the stories, Like Chaff in the Wind is a wholly unique story and Alex and Matthew Graham are fascinating characters in their own right as well.  The story starts as Matthew Graham is kidnapped at the behest of his estranged brother in revenge for slicing off his nose.  Apparently there is no love lost between the Graham brothers.  Matthew is transported to Suffolk Rose plantation in Virginia where he is treated in the most cruel manner possible as an indentured servant.  The scenes between Matthew and unscrupulous and barbarous overseer Jones had me cringing at times and completely appalled at the harsh treatment of the indentured servants. Unwilling to lose the love of her life forever Alex vows she will find her husband and bring him back to Scotland at any cost.

I really liked the dynamic between Alex and Matthew as they seem to have a connection that completely transcends normal boundaries-they can even feel each others presence even though they are separated by long distances.  I enjoyed the character of Alex immensely as being born in 1979 she is a feisty woman whose forward feminist leaning views are completely out of sync with the social conventions of 1661-the year she and Matthew live in.   I liked the shifting viewpoints between Alex, Matthew, and Alex's father Magnus in the future and thought they flowed together very well.  This was an interesting tale that kept my attention the entire time.  While I did like following Alex on her sea adventure, I wish there was a bit more action to be had during this time. With the exception of one harrowing encounter later in the journey there didn't seem to be much out of the ordinary for a sea journey (despite the extremely long length of this particular one).  Also, this is the second Alex and Matthew Graham novel and despite brief explanations and references back to the first novel to explain what was occurring in this one, I felt I would have connected with this story more had I read the first book and then this one.  I kept thinking there were things occurring that I would have understood much better had I read the first book-particularly in regards to the time travel and Alex's mother.  As I have mentioned before I am a bit of a prude when it comes to sex scenes so the reader should be forewarned that while not too graphic, there are more than a few sex scenes in the pages of this book.  

Despite those few minor things, I really liked this story and will be picking up the first book- A Rip in the Veil- so I can satisfy my curiosity about how this couple's love story got started.  I really grew to like Alex and Matthew as the story progressed and will be interested to see what happens to them in the future.

 I received this book from the author for participation in her tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book ToursThese are my honest thoughts on the book.

About the Author: "I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical -  both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer - or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am - I have achieved my dream."
Visit Anna @ www.annabelfrage.com

This tour is just getting started!  For more reviews, giveaway, interviews and guest posts with Anna you can view the rest of the tour schedule here

Stop back by tomorrow for a guest post from Anna with more insight on Like Chaff in the Wind heroine Alex Graham!

1 comment:

  1. Great review, I love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon so I'm glad you mentioned that the similarities are loose and that this is it's own story.
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages