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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Receive Me Falling

Receive Me Falling
By Erika Robuck
266 pages

– And now, ye pow’rs! to whom the brave are dear,
Receive me falling, and your suppliant hear.

from "The Dying Negro, A Poem"
by Thomas Day & John Bicknell

*** The Plot ***

Meg’s life couldn’t be better. She has a great job, wonderful (and wealthy) parents, and will soon marry her soul mate. Then tragedy strikes. After her parents are killed in a traffic accident and things turn sour at work, she calls off her wedding and head to the Caribbean island of Nevis where she’s just learned her family owns land. Once there, she falls in love with the plantation property only to find that her father’s entire estate was built on stolen money. She is being sued by multiple parties and will have to sell the land to settle her father's debts.

Meg’s turmoil is heightened by the strange connection she feels to Eden, the plantation house, and by the ghostly music of a piano playing in the middle of the night. Then she finds a diary …

In a parallel story set in the past, Catherine is the mistress of Eden Plantation, owner of 202 slaves and a valuable tract of land. As she struggles to keep Eden afloat in her father’s declining years, abolitionists and small farmer uprisings threaten to overthrow everything she holds dear.

*** The Pros ***

This story really drew me in. So much happens in the first few pages of the book and I was captivated. I haven’t had much time to read lately but I devoured this book in just a few days (mostly by staying up too late at night). The stories of Meg and Catherine are told in alternating chapters and it seemed that whichever story I was reading at the time was the one I didn’t want to end. Then the point of view would switch to the other character and I’d be caught up in HER story right away.

Although I enjoy historical fiction, I haven’t read much about the Caribbean and I’ve read nothing about Nevis. Most of the historical details were completely new to me. Particularly well done was the author’s presentation of the dissipation and drunkenness of many plantation owners; distanced from England, they were lax in keeping up appearances and adapted societal mores to fit their preferences, and all this came across very clearly.

Personally I’m a fan of plot-driven stories rather than character-driven stories and Receive Me Falling is definitely one of the former. Some characters are explored more than others, but the driving force of the novel is the discovery of Eden’s past. The pacing is excellent – no slow spots here. On the whole, I quite enjoyed this book.

*** The Cons ***

My few complaints are mostly to do with word choice and could likely have been avoided through the use of a better editor. In my opinion, some words are repeated too often within the same paragraph so that the story feels “clunky” at times. This was a bit distracting but not enough to make me stop reading.

At other times the story seems to jump around a bit. There is one scene in particular where first Catherine feels one way, then she feels the exact opposite, then another change, and so on. Because the story is plot-driven, the reader must infer from the surrounding story why Catherine’s feelings change so drastically. Unfortunately for me, I was looking for explanation from Catherine herself and that didn’t come.

So the book does have some flaws, but they were not enough to turn me off from my pleasure in reading it.

*** About the Author ***

I met Erika at a local Writers meeting before she published her book and I’ve been following her progress ever since. Needless to say, I was THRILLED to finally read her finished story. She is a wonderful gal and I wish her much success.

Erika is exciting about connecting with book clubs and is willing to call in (or visit, if you’re local) to discuss her book. Check out her website and her blog and be sure to let her know you heard about her here.

*** Coming Soon ***

Come back tomorrow to hear from Erika about how she came to write this book AND for a chance to win a copy for yourself!

(Or, for the impatient among us, you can buy your own copy right now by clicking here.)


Robin M said...

I normally don't read many historicals but like the ones that mix the present with the past. Thanks for the review. It's on my wishlist.

Anna said...

This one sounds interesting. I'm always looking for new historical fiction. Thanks for the review.

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