2014. A leather-bound book is found buried in the walls of the Meeting House in Good Hope, Pennsylvania. Its details trace the owner back to a Yorkshire farm in the Dales. And so a correspondence begins between Rachel Moorside and the man who found the journal, Sam Storer, as Rachel uncovers the tumultuous secrets of her family’s history.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Thank you Simon & Schuster for sending me this digital book in return for an honest review!
This book caught my eye because of the dramatic cover; after reading the synopsis, I was doubly hooked. I don't have a ton of knowledge about Quakers and settlement in the New World, so I was interested to see what this story brought us. It was different then I had anticipated (more time in the 1600s than in the 2000s) but that wasn't a bad thing. Instead, I found myself falling deeper into Joy's story and waiting to find out if she would get her happy ending.
Different Quakers Than Anticipated
The only thing I knew about Quakers before this book is their role in the Underground Railway; they were responsible for so many slaves finding their way to freedom. I remember reading stories as a child about their good deeds and support for anyone who needed it, so I definitely walked into this book with some preconceptions about what the Quakers in this novel would be like. I was really surprised that they often came across more Puritan than Quaker in many instances. They were often quick to judge, unforgiving, and outright cruel to anyone who dared to question them. While there is a definite chance that history views Quakers with rose-tinted glasses, but I was shocked by the way Friends treated Joy. I had to stop reading a few times and confirm that “Friends” mean “Quaker”, and not “Puritan”. While I did like reading and learning about the way they were treated in England, why they immigrated to North America, and the creation of cities that are so prominent now, I was definitely disillusioned about the kindly Quaker history I was expecting.
I LOVED the last few chapters of this book; the adventure that Joy finds herself in (kidnapping, escaping, almost being tortured) and her ultimate decision to chose love over loyalt was everything I wanted and hoped for for Joy. I didn’t expect Joy’s story to end the way it did, and I’m so happy with how it happened. I’m trying hard not to give any spoilers, so I’ll simply say that people who are fans of the classic happily ever after will be pleased with Joy’s choices.
The Present Day Was Unnecessary
I won’t ramble on about this, but I really did not see the purpose of having characters from the present day find Joy’s diary. While I’m happy her story was told, I didn’t think it made sense the way Rachel and Sam were included into this book. Their relationship meant nothing to me (although it is sweet that these two retirees are hinted to be falling in love by the end) and I was usually annoyed to find that I had to read a bit about them before I could jump back into Joy’s story. I think the book as a whole would have been stronger without the interruptions of those in the 21st century. It actually would’ve been nice for them to discover the diary at the end of the novel instead, and just given Sam and Rachel a few chapters to themselves instead of plopping them in to middle of Joy’s narrative.
This book stayed with me for days after reading it, as I continued to think about Joy's journey and struggles. I felt so connected to her story that I was really disappointed when it ended! I’d recommend this book to anyway who likes Historical Fiction or wants to get a more personal insight into Quaker life. I really enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to read what Leah Fleming writes next.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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