Wednesday, March 27, 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 realises 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:   This was such a wonderful book!  It had everything you could ask for, romance, intrigue, adventure, everything.  In reading this book I got to travel from Scotland to the Indies to America and back again as well as reconnect with some fantastic characters.  I fell in love with Alex and Matthew Graham in A Rip in the Veil (review here) and it was awesome to get to read about them again.  Like Chaff in the Wind picks up not long after A Rip in the Veil ends.  Luke Graham is back in all his evil glory and it is because of him that Matthew winds up as an indentured servant in America.  Alex decides to go after him though it takes forever for her to get there and she is forced to leave her very young son. 

I think the storyline in this book emphasizes how connected Matthew and Alex are and how nothing could keep them apart. Alex didn't stop for two seconds in her search to get Matthew back and I liked that, in this book, she got to be the savior and he the one who needed protection.  I think seeing Matthew in such a desperate situation made me love his character even more.  I was happy to see that there were a lot more scenes with theA present day characters in this book and I enjoyed getting to know Isaac and Magnus more.  Isaac was actually present in this book (he was a very minor character in the last book) and it was pretty exciting to see the adventures he had.  

I had a lot of questions as I read through this book and I am hoping that in a future book (or books) some of these will be resolved.  I keep wondering if/when Mercedes is going to show up.  I can't decide if I believe that she is dead or not and I keep waiting for her to pop into Alex's life.  I also want to know what the deal is with Margaret.  Why does she look so much like Alex?  And when is she going to stop playing everyone?  She is such a master manipulator and I just really am fed up with her.  I also feel like there is more to her story than meets the eye.  I have other questions regarding Isaac's father, Angel, and of course, I can't wait to see what will happen between Luke and Matthew.  I keep waiting for Matthew to kill him; I don't think that will happen but I can't wait to see Luke get what's coming to him.

Like Chaff in the Wind is not your average time travel/historical fiction work.  It is a wonderfully woven tale of magic, love and malice; it is a book that any reader would enjoy.  4 stars. 

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.

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