Friday, January 4, 2013

Lily's Plight by Sally Laity & Dianna Crawford

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: December 8, 2012

Journey to Pennsylvania back country during the French and Indian War. Indentured servant Lily Harwood has always thought of herself as a good Christian lass. . . until she is struck with a deeper, more profound plight than the war that rages around her. When her mistress’s husband returns home on a short furlough, Lily finds herself falling in love with him. As Lily is caught between passion and sorrow in harrowing times, can she find hope in the promises of God?

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Image by Luke M.
Used with Permission of the Artist
Those who follow my reviews might remember the disappointment I felt after completing book two in the Harwood House series, Mariah's Quest. It was the first of Laity and Crawford's novels that I issued less than four stars and it left me ambivalent about the final installment of the trilogy. That is, until I managed to get my hands on a copy of Lily's Plight.

One of my major complaints regarding Mariah's Quest was the lack of historic content, that the Barclay plantation was too far removed from the conflict, that in this regard it failed to equal the standard set its predecessor, Rose's Pledge, or Laity and Crawford's earlier work, the Freedom's Holy Light series which incorporated events from the American Revolution. In contrast, Lily's Plight takes us to the Waldon farm, to the Pennsylvania back country where a small community of intrepid homesteaders have carved out a rugged existence deep in the North American wilderness. Here the war isn't a thing whispered about at church socials or discussed over drinks at the local pub. Here the war real. Men serve in the militia, leaving their families to fend for themselves, wondering when their loved ones will return or if they will return at all. The historic angle of this series appeals to me a great deal and I was incredibly pleased to find myself back in the thick of things after being kept at a distance for so long. 

That being said I want to caution those who are easily offended. The Native people are portrayed as blood-thirsty savages, killers without remorse and though I understand the political incorrectness of this view I can forgive its inclusion. At this time, in this place, Anglo Americans had no real knowledge of the Native peoples and visa versa. Their information was based on fear, rumors and the violent confrontations that often take place as different societies struggle over the same piece of ground. The prejudice exhibited by the residents of Beaver Cove is not admirable, but it is at least historically accurate for individuals in their circumstances.

On the spiritual side I have to applaud Laity and Crawford. Not only did they tackle a delicate subject, they focused on one I have never before encountered in religious fiction. Usually I find stories of individuals who find faith or use it to get through some terrible circumstance, but here were two individuals struggling with feelings and emotions that came in direct conflict with their beliefs. When I realized this I couldn't help thinking that here was a story worth reading. Temptation and struggle, the fight to follow a path when the things you want are not yours to have. That is reality folks and I got to say, it makes pretty good fiction. Yes, Mrs. Waldon's passing makes the ending of the book inevitable, but the conflict John and Lily feel prior to that, the application of faith within the plot, all of it really impressed me.

It is safe to say I felt these ladies put together a wonderful story, one that more than made up for my experience with Mariah's Quest. A bit slow in places, predictable in the way most books of the genre are, but all in all a satisfying conclusion the Harwood House series.

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What might he have said to her if Eva Shepard wasn't hovering nearby? She didn't dare allow her imaginings to drift in that direction.
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