This is quite an unusual novel!
Bianca Marshal, a bookish Appalachian girl, wins an essay contest in 1877. The prize is a trip to Europe and the Holy Land.
Such an adventure would have been impossible for Bianca if it wasn't for her father. He'd watched her chafe at being an "old maid," and he understood that she had dreams that needed nurturing, even if they carried her away across the world for a time.
So he encouraged Bianca to pack her baggage and her Bible and begin the voyage.
Thanks to Brandy's expressive writing, we become part of the pilgrimage. Brandy brings multiple scenes and references of Scripture together with places and settings that the travelers visit, and you can understand why they would have been so moved. Being near the Sea of Galilee, riding through Bethlehem, sailing over the same sea where Jonah encountered his whale... she describes it all through Bianca's eyes.
This novel reminded me why I'd love to visit Israel someday. (And Ireland. And Italy.)
Bianca wants to badly to refresh her soul through this experience, and she also wants to find love. As the Rich Mullins song put it, she wants to find somebody tender and find somebody true.
What do you do when you love someone who thinks their past has rendered them unworthy of any crumb of grace? How do you help them see the truth?
Yes. This is an intense story, a historical novel with a taste of intrigue, and a romance.
Thank you to Worthy Publishing for my review copy.
Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy hopes to avoid a similar fate as the writer, Honoré de Balzac, who met his death via caffeine poisoning. At this point, the balance may not be tipped in her favor. Brandy's love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of Masterpiece Theater Classics, deep conversations, and a good book.