Publisher and Publication Date: WaterBrook. August 29, 2017.
Genre: Historical fiction, frontier and pioneer life, romance, Colonial America.
Source: Complimentary copy from Blogging for Books for this review.
Rating: Very good to Excellent. 4 1/2 stars.
The year is 1774. Philip and Clare Inglesby, and their young son Jacob, are traveling by wagon from Virginia to the Ohio-Kentucky frontier. Clare is heavy with child. The travel by bumpy wagon is miserable. Philip is impulsive and headstrong. He is impatient in not waiting for a canoe to be built. A canoe trip for the family would be an easier passage. Clare is uneasy, she is concerned about her advanced pregnancy; she is concerned about their lone travel through the frontier. A wagon accident begins a series of events that will change the course of their lives.
Jeremiah Ring is a frontiersman. He has lived with the Native Americans for several years. He understands their language and culture. He understands frontier life.
Jeremiah and Clare meet at the point of her greatest need.
The title and front cover caught my attention first. I’m drawn to meaningful titles and beautiful front covers. It seems most of the time an airbrushed female model graces the cover of a Christian fiction book. I’m turned off immediately. To me, this shows no creativity. It is blah. The front cover of Many Sparrows, shows the wild frontier, which is the setting of the story.
Clare is a strong character. She carefully and with trepidation walks the tight rope with Philip. She disagrees with many of his choices. However, she tries to be the dutiful and respectful wife. She is stubborn, headstrong, feisty, and has perseverance. She is not the sort of character for this time period I’d expect. I felt sorry for her. She is caught in a marriage with a man who is foolish. Everyone can see his foolishness but him. Clare has regrets but is stuck. Clare represents all those who are married to people they desperately want to be rid of. They stay in the marriage because of children or because of the commitment made. Her plight is the main reason that kept me reading. On the other hand, her headstrong actions brought trouble in the story. I understand her choices, but I wanted to shush her or tell her to wait. (Isn’t if funny when we talk to characters in books as if they can hear us?)
Jeremiah is a character I fell in love with (at least strong admiration) at his first introduction. He is my favorite kind of man: strong yet tender. A strong man needs a strong woman to make a story work well. Their strengths balance the story. Their strengths give a tenacious grip. Their strengths represented the true pioneer spirit.
The pace of the story is slow in a couple of spots. It’s possible Benton was dragging the closure for intensity.
The Native Americans and their culture showed me the stark contrast between them and white early Americans. In this story, the early Americans are rural people, single or families. The Native Americans in this story showed me their difficulty in the changes the early American settlers brought. The land where they lived and hunted was changing because of the settlers. The Native Americans were fearful and angry. Some wanted revenge and some wanted to work towards peace. I feel this is an important aspect of Many Sparrows.