In this inspirational historical romance debut novel set in 19th-century England, a young pregnant woman is forced to make difficult choices. Twenty-year-old Charlotte Lamb is the daughter of a heartless English vicar, as we discover when she becomes pregnant and he throws her out of her childhood home. Vulnerable and unprotected, she is forced to a lodging place for unwed mothers. Soon, Lamb must make decisions involving true love and sacrifice, providing many powerful turning points throughout the story. Although Klassen occasionally lapses into back-to-back dialogue, her prose is generally smooth, and Charlotte has the readers sympathy from the earliest pages. The amount of information about wet nurses, lactation and breastfeeding can become weighty, although often intriguing (such as the practice of using goats to directly feed foundling infants to avoid the spread of syphilis). Faith themes are subtly woven throughout. The reader will need to suspend disbelief to enjoy some of the plot twists, especially the happily-ever-after ending, which provides the redemptive conclusion common to Christian fiction. A bonus is the milkweed poetry, lore and symbolism knitted into the narrative. Both readers of faith fiction and general readers of historical romance should enjoy this lovely first offering from Klassen. "(Jan.)"
"Cut to the Quick" (reviewed Oct. 29) will be published in July 2008. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.