Abigail’s Journey is the story of Abigail Chesney, who is living happily with her loving husband George, a tenant farmer and three lovely children, Sam, Sarah, and Lizzy on a farm in Danbury. Tragedy struck the Chesneys when the landlord gambled their farm’s deed away, compelling them to leave their house and move to Fitch’s Eddy. On the way to the town, George sacrifices his life to save his family and thus begins Abigail’s journey through hardships without the love and support of George. While Abigail’s beauty is the talk of the town, the young mother is busy supporting her family with the help of her mother-in-law Martha and a gentleman named Caleb Tanner. Though many have their eyes on Abigail, she knows how to protect her honor and write her own destiny. With delicate family bonds, romance, competition, jealousy, gossips and social pressure, the novel makes an interesting and colorful read.
Structure and elements of the book
Abigail’s Journey is the first book in the ‘The Catskills Saga’ series of historical romance fiction books written by award winning author Jean C Joachim & Michael Magness. Based in the post American Revolutionary War period, the novel is set in an imaginary town called Fitch’s Eddy. The author has penned down a lively and beautiful sketch of rustic lifestyle of Fitch’s Eddy, people and their occupations, usual gatherings and gossips of the town.
“The rich, dense forests and verdant fields held the promise of fertile land. Good land meant prosperous towns and villages along the way. Hope grew in his chest. Perhaps Fitch’s Eddy was one of those towns?”
The conflict staged in the danger of undertaking journeys to distant places against natural barriers like heat, heavy rain, wild animals, is well represented in the novel and satisfies as an element of historical fiction. Amidst the hardships and challenges, romance blooms in Fitch’s Eddy for both teenagers and young. It is a close knitted town where every now and then festivities lit up the town and its people.
“At the end of the street were the farm displays for the contests. One woman had entered a ten- pound zucchini. Next to it was the biggest peach the Chesneys had ever seen. The Chesney family marveled at the giant vegetables, fruit, and farm animals all vying for top prize in their category.”
The author has taken some creative liberty over the representation a women’s stature in post American revolution period, when the liberty of thoughts and expression had restrictions for women of different classes. The protagonist has been portrayed as a free spirited, independent and opinionated young widow who courts the man she wants, decides whom to marry, openly refuses the advances of the high and mighty of Fitch’s Eddy which does not resonate with the contemporary scenario.
When it comes to historical fiction, a reader expects more than a fictional story, the dialects, customs, and peculiar characteristic of the people and places make the story rich and authentic. The American War of Independence is the most important event in the American history, the novel lacks any significant reference or impression of the war. The author could use some research to make the novel more authentic.
Story Development and Writing
The author is well versed in the art of fiction story development. The story follows the narrative arc and progresses at a good pace with each step from introducing the characters, elements, conflicts to climax that sets the stage for the next book in the series. Readers will not find a single loose end as far as the storytelling is concerned. The personal struggle, doubts, insecurities of Abigail are true to that of a woman and have been thoughtfully portrayed by the author. For example, as soon as Abigail begins to feel confident and trust Caleb with her life, concerns of a mother take over and she starts to doubt her own decisions. These sentiments have been very well captured evoking reader’s sympathy and support for Abigail.
“On her way home, her emotions bounced from happy to scared. Confused, she didn’t know her own mind. What should she do? What should she not do? Life had been so easy to figure out before, but now, the rules had changed. She was a grown woman alone.”
Abigail’s journey is a compelling saga of a woman’s journey through love, loss and life again. It is gripping tale which connects with the reader instantly. A beautiful recreation of the simple, rustic lifestyle, social prejudices, complex relationships and a young woman’s independent spirit which will determine her fate in a small town, is a must read for all book lovers irrespective of the genre.
Shelley Reviews Rating
Structure and Elements: 3.5/5
Story Development & Writing: 4.5/5