Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Title: Faith’s Reward
Author: Tammy Barley
Publisher: Whitaker House
Reviewed by guest blogger Jennifer Slattery
Tammy Barley’s Faith’s Reward grabbed me from page one. She wrote by far the most intriguing first page I have ever read. The novel, set in Northern California in 1865opens with Jessica Bennet jolting upright in bed after having a frightening premonition. Wind rattles against window panes, cold seeps through glass, and darkness enshrouds her, heightening the tension of the scene. Beside her, the bed is empty, which can only mean one thing—her husband is out in the storm, fighting to save their cattle during a bitterly cold blizzard.
Despite her pregnancy, Jessica hurries outside, driven by fear for her husband and concern for their already diminished cattle. While ranch hands works to chisel cattle from beneath sheets of ice, her husband grows increasingly sick—the storm has given him pneumonia. It isn’t long before Jessica’s fear is replaced with panic as she realizes his chances of survival are limited.
I loved all the homeopathic remedies Jessica and her ranch aids used in their effort to save Jessica’s ailing husband. It was clear Tammy spent a great deal of time researching medicinal practices of this period, and during the pneumonia scenes, the details were effectively woven into the story without jolting the reader. I also appreciated the tender love Jessica shared with her husband and their obvious faith. Each character presented came alive and Jessica’s tender yet headstrong nature created a dynamic woman that was easy to relate to.
On numerous occasions, Tammy’s unique word choices and colorful phrases amused me. Visual detail was seamlessly woven into the story, creating rich images in the reader’s mind. However, there a considerable amount of backstory was provided, especially in the first chapter, and at times the dialogue and thought tags pulled me from the story. Yet despite the over-abundance of tags and occasional information intrusion, I found the story line engaging. I empathized deeply with Jessica and her husband and wanted to see Mr. Bennet overcome the odds, living to see the birth of his child.