A Refuge at Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky (Edwardian Brides #3, WaterBrook Multnomah, October 2015)
The Great War shakes the world of a spirited young woman and the brave British pilot she loves, taking her from London to her family’s magnificent country estate, and sending him into the war-torn skies over France.
Penny Ramsey has always considered Highland Hall her home, but when Britain becomes involved in World War One she travels to London to assist her sister Kate with the eight orphan children she and her husband Jon have taken into their home. Doing her part for the war effort takes priority over Penny’s dreams of romance until she meets Alex Goodwin, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot in training.
Alex is determined to prove his worth and do his part to defend his country. Knowing he is heading off for the dangerous assignment of chasing Zeppelins across the front line in France, he feels it’s unwise to form any romantic attachments. But he can’t help admiring the pretty, warmhearted Penny and wondering what it would be like to find her waiting when he returns home from the war.
As Penny writes to Alex, their friendship blossoms, and she becomes his tie to home and normalcy as he faces the hardships war. But being an RNAS pilot means confronting the enemy, and the fallout form those experiences push Alex beyond Penny’s reach. Can God mend the brokenness left by the losses of war? Will faith and forgiveness bring them together again?
I love stories set during times of war; for the last thirteen years, any novel or movie set during World War Two immediately caught my attention. While the 1940’s remain my favorite time period for stories set in war time, in 2015 a second time period has gradually won my heart. Christian fiction authors have penned quite a few novels set during the Edwardian Era, and their talent for bringing this turbulent time to life captures the hardships, challenges, romance, and elegant changes of Great Britain in the early 1900s. A Refuge at Highland Hall, written by historical-fiction fan-favorite author Carrie Turansky, is a gem of a book filled with endearing characters; dual settings of gorgeous Edwardian England and wartime France; and faith-filled lessons of redemption, love, and hope. Readers of historical fiction, especially those who yearn for historical romance, will want to pick up this book because it’s a perfect blend of the challenges of war, romance fraught with the pangs and beauty of new love, and family drama.
The storylines in A Refuge at Highland Hall, book three in the Edwardian Brides series, pick up right where Turansky’s sophomore novel left readers last year—and oh, how I am happy she wrote her newest release in this manner. Much to its compared counterpart, the Edwardian Brides series is beloved for the same reasons Downton Abbey resonates with readers: family drama and romance mixed with the changes of Edwardian England. Turansky is a master at intermingling numerous storylines in a way that combines the history of this time period into the personal lives of her characters. I loved this aspect of A Refuge of Highland Hall because I came to care about all of the characters in this saga, all while learning about the nuances of class distinctions and wartime England in the Edwardian Era.
Turansky has created a world that instantly transports readers back into early 1900’s Great Britain in A Refuge at Highland Hall. The combination of superb historical research and endearing, realistic characters drew me deep into this story—so much so that I truly felt as if I walked through Highland Hall with the Ramseys and Fosters, and flew through the skies above France and Germany with hero Alex Goodwin. The theme of family plays a central role in A Refuge at Highland Hall, which was one of my favorite aspects of this novel. No one—not one single character—is left untouched in Turansky’s story, earning my devotion to this fictional family that I wish existed in real life. With her setting built upon the details of the time period, the themes of family and faith are able to be explored in a manner that clearly demonstrates how families in Edwardian England lived lives so differently, and yet with the same fears and joys we experience today.
A Refuge at Highland Hall is a wonderful book for many reasons all of its own, but Turansky’s skill at writing prose that is both beautiful and approachable language contributes to the book’s appeal. I will be surprised if numerous lines in the novel are not found floating their way in graphics on social media, or conversely, will not be surprised if many of Turansky’s fans have memorized her words. I myself have already done the latter—and even found myself squeezing my eyes shut during a certain heart-stopping scene involving the hero’s wartime battle. This novel has largely influenced my conversion from being ambivalent to the World War One setting to being excited about future novels being set during this time. Two months in advance I already know that A Refuge at Highland Hall will be on my 2015 favorite books list. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read historical fiction.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky has written more than a dozen historical and contemporary novels. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award; and been a finalist for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the ACFW Genesis Award. Visit her blog and sign up for her email newsletter on her website. Follow Carrie on Facebook and Amazon and check out her Pinterest Boards.