Let me start this review by saying that if you don’t follow this blog, this is the sixth review (not counting the guest articles and interviews) that I’ve written for Anna Belfrage about historical novels in her Graham Saga Series–the latest being the seventh book (I missed reviewing book one!) called Whither Thou Goest.
I have to say, I’ve grown quite fond of reviewing Anna’s books every six months or so. I feel very possessive of the characters in her books, with their quite strength, devotion, loyalty, love, and most of all humor. The humor and courage that Anna’s main time-slip character Alexandra Lind exudes over hundreds and hundreds of pages reminds me now of Anna (and she’ll either love or hate I said that–but she’s extremely strong and super funny herself). I can’t imagine not having Alex and Matthew in my life, so I pleasantly urge Anna to soon enough make them immortal. Hey, it happens, it could happen!!
Since I am not the type of reviewer that regurgitates plots, as I feel you should experience them for yourself and I never want to accidentally spoil anything, what can I say in a review for a seventh book in the series? Well, speaking of plot, and that it IS the seventh book, I can tell you that no matter what adventures that Alex has been on since time-slipping back in time from 2002 to the 17th Century, where she meets her soul mate Matthew Graham, Anna has twisted, turned, and intertwined plots in such a fashion, while keeping characters and historical facts in check, with not only grace, but with flawless precision. Also, with less long-winded sentences than the one I was just compelled to write.
No seriously, she writes with a flowing ability, filled with every ounce of love she’s squeezed from herself and put onto the page. I DO think that with each book, I enjoyed her writing more and felt it increasingly absorbing, captivating, and beautiful. The details she presents with each location in time, history, or as in this book their travels (yep, back aboard a ship) make me feel as if I’ve time slipped myself and traveled back in time. In this book, Anna’s personal experiences with Latin American culture shine through. I felt as if I landed on a beach and was observing that section of the book while sipping mango juice.
With Anna’s characters, as by now Alex and Matthew are older and much of the plot surrounds their children or extended family, she creates such distinct, vivid, and dimensional characters. There are those we love and those we hate. There are the normal issues for the time periods and locations, in this seventh book they are in the Colony of Maryland, and as a reader I feel the hardships as well as the love, the heartbreak as well as the joys. But also, there are the ghosts of their past to deal with, which keeps it extra interesting.
Anna does a tremendous job of balancing that all out within her novels, but especially this one in particular. And what I love most about Alex, besides her humor, is her unwavering desire to protect her children and make them happy. Second most, I love how she “keeps it real,” you know when she is hurt and why, and so does her family, but I adore their respect for her and how they appreciate her undying love and devotion. In other words, we feel her emotions are true and authentic and so her character is one that most readers can relate to easier.
As for Matthew, he does also shine in the novel, as this book’s plot takes him deep within himself to a place and time he probably wishes not to remember, as he helps his brother and nephew, at the peril and danger of himself and family. But that’s what he does, isn’t it? Always helping others? He does always somehow seem to find himself taking issues of the decade on with full speed. It’s his involvement that allows Anna to show us the social and religious undercurrents of the times they are in. I’m curious what decision he is about to make at the end of this seventh novel…ah, the suspense!
As for Matthew and Anna together, what a match made and watching their relationship and life unfold before my eyes is a pleasure. That’s why I like this title, Whither Thou Goest, as it truly is Alex’s motto to Matthew. “After all, where you go, I go, right?” said Alex.
On a personal note, I really enjoyed the story line in this book about Samuel, or White Bear, who is Alex’s son that was “adopted” by a Native American tribe. It was so touching and very well-done. I appreciated her portrayal of Native Americans. It reminded me of a story in my own heritage, when my ancestor was captured by the Native Americans during the American Revolution. He lived with them for a year before escaping back to where I live now and setting up a homestead. A story is told about meeting one of his fellow tribe members years later and it still being cordial. I often wonder what it was like for him to live with them and how he felt later in life about the experience. Somehow Anna channeled not only a mother’s emotion of this to Alex, but also she handled it well from all sides–Samuel, his adopted tribe, and Matthew–giving them all a voice in the matter that seemed realistic.
Anyway, I digress. Anna has many plot points to tie-up in this novel, new plots to move forward, old vendettas and issues to resolve, as well as new ones to decipher, and I am looking forward to seeing what her next, and most likely, final novel will hold in store. She seamlessly writes each and every one in a way that you are engaged and moved along in the story without any hindrance or comment. That’s why I think as I reader I most feel as if I am walking in a new place myself, removing myself from my world as I know it, and entering into a new adventure. I do hope she continues on with the series though, through the Graham children, if I must be selfish.
Anna writes Whither Thou Goest with flowing pen, flawless structure and sentences, intriguing and engaging plot, dimensional characters filled with emotion and authenticity, and gorgeous imagery. This is an excellent series worth the money so you should splurge on the entire set, as you’ll want to read this series from the start.
Whither Thou Goest, Synopsis~
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip
Series: The Graham Saga
Whither Thou Goest is the seventh book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
In their rural home in the Colony of Maryland, Matthew and Alex Graham are still recovering from the awful events of the previous years when Luke Graham, Matthew’s estranged brother, asks them for a favour.
Alex has no problems whatsoever ignoring Luke’s sad plea for help. In her opinion Matthew’s brother is an evil excuse of a man who deserves whatever nasty stuff fate throws at him. Except, as Matthew points out, Luke is begging them to save his son – his misled Charlie, one of the Monmouth rebels – and can Charlie Graham be held responsible for his father’s ill deeds?
So off they go on yet another adventure, this time to the West Indies to find a young man neither of them knows but who faces imminent death on a sugar plantation, condemned to slavery for treason. The journey is hazardous and along the way Alex comes face to face with a most disturbing ghost from her previous life, a man she would much have preferred never to have met.
Time is running out for Charlie Graham, Matthew is haunted by reawakened memories of his days as an indentured servant, and then there’s the eerie Mr Brown, Charlie’s new owner, who will do anything to keep his secrets safe, anything at all.
Will Matthew deliver his nephew from imminent death? And will they ever make it back home?
Graham Saga Titles
Book One: A Rip in the Veil
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Book Three: The Prodigal Son
Book Four: A Newfound Land
Book Five: Serpents in the Garden
Book Six: Revenge & Retribution
Book Seven: Whither Thou Goest
Book Eight: To Catch a Falling Star (March 2015)
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.
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