Monday, January 21, 2019
Freedom's Light- Colleen Coble
Description: Hannah Thomas left the South and all that was familiar to marry her beloved John. But the fact that she’s never been quite accepted by his mother and sister and that she doesn’t quite fit the strict Massachusetts Puritan community only becomes more difficult when John is killed in one of the first battles in the war for freedom. Hannah is allowed to continue to serve as lightkeeper for the twin tower lighthouses on the lonely coastline, but it is grueling work for a woman alone.
One of the first shipwrecks washes ashore a handsome captain she thinks is a Tory, but she soon finds out he’s working as a spy for Washington. Much stands in the way of their happiness including the need to protect his secret, pressure from John’s family to marry another, near-constant disapproval from the townspeople, and the appearance of Hannah’s wayward sister. Coupled with the strain of war, Hannah isn’t sure she’ll ever see the light of freedom.
My Thoughts: I've read a few books by Coble and never really loved them. However, all of those books had been some of her contemporary novels, which has never been my favorite genre. So when I received this book for review and saw that it was historical fiction, I had hoped that it would be a much more enjoyable read.
Though the description makes it sound as though the book is about Hannah and Birch, the plot is driven far more by Hannah's sister, Lydia, and Hannah's ex-suitor, Galen, both of whom are selfish and will betray anyone to get what they want. Yet both seemed more fleshed out than either Hannah or Birch, the first of which was so unassuming and unwilling to make waves, that she had little agency or desire to stick up for anyone else outside of a word or two.
As for the content of the story, most every character is sexually promiscuous or else highly judgemental of those who are. And the narrative of the American Revolution fell almost to the way side because of this. The reader is told about the fact that there are spies and that Hannah's lighthouse is key to the war, however almost all of the scenes are of people arguing over whether or not, and in what situations, it is wrong to be promiscuous and then how punishment for such behavior will be exacted.
And while this kind of content would not normally be a problem for me, as I enjoy novels which delve into harder issues, I was frustrated with this one. While Hannah herself has opinions on all that I mentioned above and refuses to bend in her own actions, she also takes no stand on them when it comes to her dealings with others. She defends the judgemental church leaders who condemn her sister, while describing them as judgemental. And even after describing her father as an abusive alcoholic, she only tries to bring one of her sisters out of that situation once she decides that she is lonely living by herself. At the same time, she dismisses the idea of trying to help the other sister with one sentence, claiming the task to be impossible.
Had Hannah truly stood up for her sister, either in giving up her secrets about Galen or else sacrificing her lighthouse, I might have liked her character. But as the story was, I did not find anyone that I really cared for.
I have provided an honest review after receiving a copy of the book through the Fiction Guild.