Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Valley by Helen Bryan

Rating: NA
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: May 27, 2016

Left suddenly penniless, the Honorable Sophia Grafton, a viscount’s orphaned daughter, sails to the New World to claim the only property left to her name: a tobacco plantation in the remote wilds of colonial Virginia. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a handsome young French spy—at gunpoint— she gathers an unlikely group of escaped slaves and indentured servants, each seeking their own safe haven in the untamed New World. What follows will test her courage and that of her companions as they struggle to survive a journey deep into a hostile wilderness and eventually forge a community of homesteads and deep bonds that will unite them for generations. The first installment in an epic historical trilogy by Helen Bryan, the bestselling author of War Brides and The Sisterhood, The Valley is a sweeping, unforgettable tale of hardship, tenacity, love, and heartache.

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Before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to emphasize that I did not finish this book and will not be offering a rating of any kind. I managed the first hundred pages, but was so disenchanted with the story that I saw no reason to continue to push on the remaining five hundred. That said, I feel I read enough of the book to offer commentary on the portion I did complete and am posting my thoughts in way of explanation for having abandoned the piece outright. 

The Valley marks my second experience with author Helen Bryan and while I did not enjoy War Brides, I tried my best to see The Valley with unbiased eyes. I was glad to note that Bryan's new release did not suffer the same trifecta of editing errors that plagued her earlier work, but new issues made it impossible for me to get into and appreciate Sophia Grafton's story and I ultimately decided the novel unreadable. 

It is my understanding that The Valley is based on the lives of Bryan's ancestors, but I feel the author's personal interest in the material made it impossible for her cut superfluous detail. To be perfectly blunt. the jacket description has more action in its synopsis than the first hundred pages of Bryan's work and I'm not inclined to pretend I appreciate glacially paced lit that is overburdened with redundant and unnecessary minutia.

I found Bryan's development of Sophia thin and stereotypic, but her presentation left me so bored and disinterested that I found no reason to continue. 

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The promise of a dress allowance was sweet, but above all she wanted her father to love her again. And it seemed that the only way that would happen was if she became more like her mother. How was she to resemble a dead saint?
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