Monday, July 11, 2016

REVIEW: Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter
by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Publisher: White Rose / Harbourlight Books
Page Count: 272
Release Date: June 1, 2016
Format: Kindle ARC

How got: free ARC from NetGalley

First attention getter: pretty cover

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

In a land fraught with religious strife, they must break the barriers between status and faith to forge a fresh future in a new world… 

After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family’s farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne’s brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee. 

With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia. Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding—a reality made worse when Johan spots the “priest” who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. 

Are their wedding vows valid? When Suzanne's former fiancĂ© arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again—but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever?

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 2.5

I started out with high hopes for this book; the premise and history behind it sounded intriguing. As we went further into the story, however, things got more and more muddled with leaps of logic, scenes that went nowhere, and a main character I had no empathy for. I finished for one character and the history behind the story. Otherwise, I’d have dropped this book like a hot potato.

The plight of the Huguenots, their flight path through Germany to the new world, and the world of indentured servants all are vividly explored. My personal family history has Huguenot and Palatinate German roots on two different branches. I was fascinated to explore how brutal it could be for the French Protestants as they fled the persecution of Louis XIV and his Catholic state. The author doesn’t skimp on the harsh details of their lives and dangers. I’m curious now to see if my two family branches might have crossed on similar paths as explored here.

I loved Johan. He was sweet and supportive, loving Suzanne for whom she was even if she didn’t initially share his faith and protecting her the best he could in a powerless situation. He was guided by his ardent faith and never wavered. Also who doesn’t love a burly, strong guy who’s devoted to protecting and providing for a gal?

Suzanne, though, I had no empathy for. I found her shallow and out of touch with reality. She couldn’t face her new circumstances, always harking back to the grand marriage she was going to make and getting back to Versailles and her aristocratic background, only changing her tune towards the end. I felt like she never returned the depth of emotion and love that Johan directed towards her. This made the relationship and eventual marriage one-sided for me. I can’t see a happy future for them together, even with God’s help.

The Christian elements are about what I expected for a themed work of this type. They weren’t in your face nor preachy. God was called on often for strength, as to be expected from the events these characters faced, and they constantly harkened back to God’s teachings as they grew. As a non-Christian reading this work, I found them well incorporated into the overall storyline.

The writing style and devices used throughout, though, are this book’s greatest downfall. For one thing, the writing doesn’t flow. Sentences are either choppy or massive run-ons held together by commas, sometimes four or five to a sentence. This also applies to the paragraphs. I felt, at times, I was reading the work of a child or very young writer.

There would also be leaps of logic with no explanation: characters would have information with no explanation of how they got them, information would be conveniently written down somewhere for reading and assumption making, and characters would act without motivation being divulged. More times than not I was confused and irritated, trying to figure out this book.

The history and Johan are why I kept reading and finished. Suzanne, I could give two figs about. The writing style is wacky and just out there. I think this book could benefit with more editing and reworking. I don’t see myself searching out this author again or reading this particular book a second time.

Note: Book received for free from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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