I thought about just not writing this review and begging forgiveness. The reason for that being that it’s for the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s The Graham Saga series, which is also the last. Yes, To Catch a Falling Star is the last. Crying ensues from everyone, everywhere (cue Kleenex!). This really is a best-loved series by so many, and I am included in both the crying and the loving. However, since Anna told me recently (and you’ll see in our interview tomorrow) that she may re-visit some of the characters, I’ll choose to keep hope alive. Also, I’ll leave links below to all my previous 10+ posts with Anna during this series. There is also an excerpt below so you can get a glimpse into this final book.
What might I think of this final book To Catch a Falling Star, this epic tale of Matthew Graham and Alexandra Lind and family, you ask? As always, Anna has great characterization. The proof of this is our connection to her characters over the series. I know I’m not the only one who fell in love with the Graham family. In this final book, we still see the enduring love and support of Matthew and Alex, both for each other, as well as their grown children.
We also see a great amount of adventure, action, and trauma. I mean, Anna can’t write a book that doesn’t make us all cry and tug at our heart strings. Poor Alex is always heavy in heart over one of her children. The situations as each go their separate ways is sometimes sad, as well of course, the fact that Anna doesn’t shy away from the hard emotional scenes that include death and grieving. She writes with real authenticity and pours everything out onto the page.
In the plot of this particular novel, Matthew receives a note from Luke, his brother that he hasn’t spoken to in many years, informing him that he now owns the family manor in Scotland. Of course, I know why Alex would be wary, she isn’t keen on seeing Luke and she isn’t thrilled about going to Scotland. It’s 1688 and there is religious and political upheaval. Matthew seems surprised at how much Scotland has changed, once he arrives with Alex and a few of their children. As always, it can’t be easy and some tragedy ensues, leaving Alex wondering when they’ll be able, and if they’ll be able, to return to their home in Maryland.
I know Alex wasn’t happy to be going to Scotland, but I did think it was great for Anna, as the author, to let her character of Matthew return to his roots, as well as enjoyable that we, as readers, are returned to the start of it all in Scotland. It does seem fitting also, the return, as she writes in a way to wrap things up and come full circle, just as their lives have come around to older age. They need to be able to make amends and face things from their past. Matthew and Luke also having an understanding, so her story is a little about brothers too. Matthew making resolution with his brother, as well as the relationships between the sons of Alex and Matthew as grown brothers. We see love, remorse, sadness, healing, forgiveness, redemption, loss, and joy.
I think that the main plot, which is really the love story of Matthew and Alex, all comes around and ties up nicely. Their love endures throughout the saga and we are left feeling that Alex’s time slip was the best thing that ever happened to her. We are left feeling good by the end, though I don’t want to give it all away, so I’ll just say that I felt it was a very fitting ending.
One of the side stories I found interesting was with Alex’s son Issac, who is a gifted painter. When he falls through a painting he time slips 300 years into the future! This is something I’ve always wanted to do, might I add! However, he does have a bit of a struggle as he tries to paint his way back. I thought it was so fitting to find that Alex’s son, like herself and his grandmother Mercedes, is also a time traveler! He also has a bit of her personality! I always felt like one of the children should have the gift as well.
Of course, there are several other stories and issues occurring throughout the book in regards to historical situations that Alex and Matthew’s children and family find themselves in that make for excellent reading. The action propelled me through the pages, the dialogue kept my eyes moving. I should choose favorites, but my favorite side story of one of their children is Samuel. I enjoy his story. I’d be sad to not hear of him again.
Thinking back throughout the series, I do feel that the books have gotten so much better with ever increasing quality of writing and story telling, even with adding more and more historical information with each new time and place. I especially enjoyed the last few books. Anna’s writing is quick-witted, focused, interesting, and engaging. I like how Anna writes of Matthew and Alex in terms of religious and political situations as well; both characters always seem to be the peace makers or at least are very good at making each side see the other side’s story. They are able to get out of some very sticky situations. I think they teach readers strength, courage, and compassion. This final book is a true testament to a wonderful couple, one that balances out each other with fine precision, though not always with ease.
Anna has created a beautifully written series that should adorn anyone’s bookshelf. I know they’ll urge to be read many times again (I don’t think these characters will rest!). The notion of time slipping is captivating, but what is truly spellbinding is Anna’s writing–her characters, her life humor, her long-abiding love story. It’s an unforgettable saga that is to be passed among generations, as time has no boundaries in regards to it.
My previous reviews/spots with Anna:
Book One: A Rip in the Veil (missed this one!)
Book Two: Like Chaff in the Wind
Excerpt from To Catch a Falling Star!
Matthew and Alex talk about Luke, Matthew’s perfidious brother~
“He looked old,” Matthew said some hours later, unable to keep a satisfied tone out of his voice.
“Who?” Alex said, sinking deeper into the hip bath. The room they’d taken was full of sleeping lads on pallets, but she had insisted on taking a bath, curtly informing Matthew that as far as she knew, all her sons had seen her naked before and weren’t about to die of shock.
“Yes, he did, didn’t he?” she said, lathering her hair. “He does, however, look very wealthy.”
“Let me,” Matthew said, sinking his fingers into her scalp. “He is wealthy, and for all that he spent a year in house arrest, it hasn’t damaged his standing in court over much.”
“How do you know?” Alex asked.
“I’m not entirely without contacts, even if quite a few of my erstwhile companions are dead by now.” Matthew rinsed her hair, handed her a couple of towels, and sat on the bed to watch her step out of the tub, pink and glowing. “The King was right in placing him under house arrest.” This was information he had pieced together from several letters arriving not only from London but also from Edinburgh and even from Amsterdam. It would seem Luke had very much on purpose sent Charlie to Amsterdam, hoping the lad would become a well-known face at the court of William of Orange. Unfortunately, he had been dazzled by the Duke of Monmouth instead, thereby becoming an enthusiastic participant in the rebellion three years hence that nearly cost Charlie his life.
“You think?” Alex tugged a clean shift over her head and came to join him on the bed.
“Aye, he’s politically astute, my wee brother, and just like you, he doesn’t see the English taking to a line of Catholic kings.”
“Well, to be entirely honest, I know, don’t I? I know James will be out on his ear shortly.” She hunted about for her comb. “It’s just that I can’t recall exactly when. I should have paid more attention in history class.
“When do we leave for Hillview?” she asked some while later, wrenching Matthew out of private musings as to how close to the fire his brother might be flying.
“In some days. I have deeds to notarise, and then we must find ourselves horses and such.”
“Some days?” Alex gave him a penetrating look.
He averted his face from her, muttered something about having the maid empty the hip bath and cart it away, and escaped the room to yell down the stairs. Alex retreated behind the bed hangings when the door swung open to let in the harried maid and the yard lad.
“You’re scared,” she said once they were alone again.
“Nay, not afraid precisely, more…I’ve never been away this long from it before, and it may have changed.” He twitched the bed hangings closed, enveloping them in a musky, deep red glow, the candle on the headboard flaring in the resulting waft of air before settling down to burn steadily again.
“I seem to remember having had this conversation with you before,” she said, curling up against his chest.
“But that time it was only three years. This time, it’s twenty.” He closed his eyes, imagining all kinds of destruction. Mayhap someone had moved the barn, or torn down the stables, and where the dovecote had stood since time immemorial he might come home to find a pigsty.
“A pigsty?” Alex laughed and shook her head.
“Or a privy.”
“The ground’s too rocky for a privy there, and pigs like mud, not stones. Besides, you can always change it back.” She nestled into him. “You don’t think they’ll have touched the graveyard, do you?” Despite her casual tone, he knew this was her secret fear, that they’d return to find the headstones gone, the rowan tree cut down, and they’d have no idea where their wee daughter lay at rest.
“Of course not, that would be desecration. And Magnus said, didn’t he, how the rowan was still there when he visited Hillview last.” It made him smile – albeit crookedly. His father-in-law had been to Hillview before his longing for Alex drove him to attempt some time travelling of his own – successfully, as it happened, even if the mere thought of those accursed painted time portals had Matthew breaking out in a cold sweat. Magic: black magic, even.
As always when they touched upon the sheer improbability of his dear wife’s life – born in 1976, fallen back to land in the seventeenth century with him – he felt her tense, her hands gripping his shirt.
He tightened his hold on her shoulders. “I won’t let time take you back, lass. You’re staying with me ’til the end of our days and well beyond.” He threw her a teasing look down the length of his nose. “Although I fear that means I must join you in hell.”
“Not if God is fair and unprejudiced. I do as well as I can.”
“But we all know that God is selective as to who gets in to heaven. Most of us are not accorded grace.”
“Not my God. He has plenty of room up there in His rolling meadows for all the truly good and kind souls.” She propped herself up on an elbow to smile down at him. “And I bet you He has tea and cake as well.”
“Tea and cake?” Matthew laughed out loud. “What will a soul want with tea and cake?”
“Let me tell you I have no intention spending an eternity just wafting about and looking adequately spiritual.” Alex grinned. “I’m planning on eating and drinking and having lots and lots of sex.”
“Sex, hmm?” Matthew rolled her over, lowering his voice to a seductive rumble.
“As much as I can get,” she said, tugging his shirt out of the way. Her hand found his balls, she ran a nail up his member, and he dipped his head to nibble her ear, smiling at the responding gooseflesh that flew up her thighs. “Although I think we can manage that in hell as well,” she went on, “it will just be that much hotter.”
”You shouldn’t jest about it,” he said with attempted severity.
Her eyes stared up at him, mostly black in the night. “I don’t care where I go after death, as long as it’s with you.”
It still made his heart flutter when she said things like that, a heartfelt, silent thank you buzzing through his brain. For my life and my bairns, for my health, but most of all for my wife, my miraculous Alex, I thank you, Lord, every day, I thank you.
To Catch a Falling Star, Synopsis~
Series: Book Eight, The Graham Saga
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip
To Catch a Falling Star is the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
Some gifts are double-edged swords …
For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.
Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours.
While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.
All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.
Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?
Buy To Catch a Falling Star~
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
About the Author, Anna Belfrage~
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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