Anna Belfrage’s cast of characters are unforgettable in her Graham Saga historical fiction series of books. I’ve read novels 1-3 (Rip in the Veil #1, Like Chaff in the Wind #2, and The Prodigal Son #3) and reviewed books 2 and 3. To start if you haven’t read the series, you can read my review of Like Chaff in the Wind by clicking HERE and my review of The Prodigal Son HERE. I’ve had an interview with Belfrage you can read HERE. Anna is funny as just about anyone I know, her humor is priceless and I can imagine that she herself emulates the strength and humor found in her main protagonist, Alex(andra). She’s even wrote a guest post about how her characters take over life that you can find HERE.
Now that I’ve given you a ton of back content to read, I hope you’ll stick around for my review of the recently published book four in the series, which she called A Newfound Land. Her characters of Matthew and Alex Graham, and family, head to the New World for woodland outskirts set near the Maryland colony in the 1600s, after leaving Scotland to get away from all the religious strife.
I love these covers!! Love the feathers in this one!
I highly recommend for the best reading experience possible that at least book two (Like Chaff in the Wind) and three (The Prodigal Son) are read before starting four, though starting with the first (A Rip in the Veil) and continuing would be best as readers learn about Alex slipping back into the past (from the 2000s to the 1600s).
I feel book two can be read stand alone, but as a reader delves further into the series, I feel the story would lose its value to most readers if not read in its entirety. Definitely, I do not recommend reading book four without the background of at least two and three. I believe books two and three had more action, which will grab readers more and make them feel a connection to the series, and by reading those they can understand what the family went through at various times, why they relate to each other as they do, the decisions they’ve made, and they get a more well-rounded view. I think readers would have no idea what is going on with Alex’s son Ian if they hadn’t read book three, or why her past comes back around (and why it matters) in book four without reading the previous books.
I also believe that book four is more of a “breather” of some sorts as opposed to all the action and drama in books two and three. Alex and Matthew are 14 years post book three now and learning to live with the hardships of a newly formed territory and having to live off the land. Not only is Alex a new mom many times over, she is still getting pregnant. She is still her free thinking and impulsive self, but less so. I find her a bit more reserved (unless her children or a woman in need are involved), more in tune with preserving her current family–husband and children–and being content in her new time period that includes, of course, none of the luxury of our millennium from whence she came, but also none of their former life either. Life is hard in the New World and we as readers see how it has hardened and aged them both. Not to mention we get to see the drama that ensues as other people keep dramatically dropping back into their lives. I thought a little that maybe it seemed far-fetched that they all would just “happen” to meet up here in the New World, but I see how Anna was trying to bring the past back into the story and for all unresolved to be…well, resolved. It worked with the story, because the life of Alex and Matthew, of course, is nothing BUT surprises.
Though the plot seemed more laid back to me, it did move quickly from one “happening” to the next. There was always something going on with someone. A mystery, a crime, a family occurrence–something sad, something happy. Things moved along sometimes too slow while also moving too fast. Does that even make sense? Maybe I feel it lacked some focus on part of a story line. I did enjoy that Belfrage brought into the story, due to the time period, the historical aspect of indentured servants, slaves, rogue residents, and the Native American conflicts. I liked how she showcased Alex and Matthew (even though both from different times) to be NOT racist or biased. Her portrayal of Matthew to be a strong man of the time, but one that was fair and just in his treatment of others was phenomenal. I really liked how she told the underdog’s story and how he always considers her opinion in matters of major decisions.
I am more of a subtle romance person…i.e. a light touch of hand or a look…so Belfrage goes a little overboard for me this time in terms of their sexual relations. Maybe she wanted to prove how much they still want each other even though they are now around 40 (which is old for that time period!) and fertile. But they would be so overworked and fatigued, I would think! I found myself skipping those parts. Due to her superb writing and characterization over all her books, I can already imagine in my own mind how they are with each other without all the detail. But for other romance readers, it might not be a big deal. I am more a historical reader though, than reading for the steamy romance. With them, and others in the story, it did seems to center a little too much on sex relations between many parties, mainly in the woods, but maybe that is because back then that was most of the entertainment they had? ha!
Overall I think this book read a lot like a journal depicting their lives or a narrator sharing each day of their current lives with us. I am a huge fan of colonial period history and I enjoyed that aspect of it best. For fans of Matthew and Alex’s life, this gave even more great detail into their personalities and how they conform to any situation and learn to survive. It wrapped up past questions and haunts and moved the family into the future and a new life. For all those reasons it worked within the Saga. It was almost like a bridge. At least I am hoping so and look forward to what new adventures lie in Belfrage’s next Graham series books, of which I think there will be a few more.
It’s a great set to own in its entirety as this family is one that you’ll grow close too and not soon forget. If you love historical fiction with great character development–a strong female lead who is incorrigible, sarcastic, loving, and determined, then The Graham Saga is a set to start on from the beginning (when you learn why she slipped into the past in the first place). The series covers many different locales, challenges, and historical issues that make it a great social read. I find myself many times laughing out loud at Alex when I read Belfrage’s books. I love that about them!
A Newfound Land, Synopsis~
It’s 1672, and Matthew Graham and his family have left Scotland. Having taken the drastic decision to leave their homeland due to religious conflicts, Alexandra and Matthew hope for a simpler, if harsher, life in the wilds of the Colony of Maryland.
Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out as you want them to, and the past has a nasty tendency to resurface at the most inappropriate moments. Both Matthew and Alex are forced to cope with the unexpected reappearance of people they had never thought to meet again, and the screw is turned that much tighter when the four rogue Burley brothers enter their lives.
Matters are further complicated by the strained relations between colonists and the Susquehannock Indians. When Matthew intercedes to stop the Burleys from abducting Indian women into slavery he makes lifelong – and deadly – enemies of them all.
Once again Alex is plunged into an existence where death seems to threaten her man wherever he goes.
Will Matthew see himself – and his family – safe in these new circumstances? And will the past finally be laid to rest?
A Newfound Land is the fourth book in Anna Belfrage’s time slip series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
Author Anna Belfrage, Biography~
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.
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/anewfoundlandtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #NewfoundLandTour