The Adventure of a Lifetime for Two Indomitable Socialite Sisters
In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.
Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.
I was sent this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
I love, love, love this book! Rebecca and Flora are absolutely wonderful. Two women ahead of their time, seeking adventure when women were expected to be demure and dainty, they’re schlepping through jungles, dirt, sand and unbearable heat. Rebecca, strong and without fear and Flora, sweet and kind, a sister that will follow Rebecca anywhere.
Rebecca’s character is outspoken and independent, refusing to cow-tail to society’s expectations of her future. She is expected to marry and provide a home for her husband and children, host dinners for his clients and listen to him. She is not expected to educate herself, discuss “controversial” topics, and control money since once she marries, her husband would gain control over her inheritance.
Flora’s character is sweet and refined, she is torn between belonging in society, being caught up in fashion trends, marrying for status and the fulfillment of society’s expectations of her and giving her money over to her new husband since by law at the time, women were not allowed to have any. She is distressed about this and her love for her sister and charitable work that she does, both that may suffer once she marries.
Both girls want to please their father and do what they think will make him happy, however, marrying someone who doesn’t love them and only wants their money is something the girls, especially Rebecca, just cannot do.
Rebecca feels she has a calling and desires to travel the world in order to discover what God’s intentions for her are. She longs to find someone who will love her and want to travel the world with her, not control her.
Flora is confused, easily influenced and wants to be with her sister and please her. Rebecca wants only the best for her sister but feels that marrying under the conditions Flora must meet, is ridiculous, so she convinces her sister to take one last trip with her, one last unconventional trip to Europe.
The reader is taken along for the ride.
With perspectives written between past and present, you learn how the girls grew in to loving adventure, their antics that set the stage for their future travels, and how close their relationship is. In the present, you see not only further development in their relationship, you’re taken on an incredible journey in search of more than just a relic. You’ll see how each woman faces their own insecurities about their choices in life, how they deal with society and their resolution to anxieties and fears that have plagued them since childhood.
Beautiful settings, a fantastical author voice that takes you on this journey transitioning smoothly from one important element to the next as the plot flows and develops in a lyrical and fascinating way. This is a historical fiction set around the Victorian era. How can you go wrong?
The characters grow, struggle, laugh, cry, take you along for the ride and leave you wanting more. This is a beautiful story, a page turner to the very end.
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