Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review: The Frontiersman's Daughter

Frantz, Laura. 2009. The Frontiersman's Daughter. Revell. 412 pages.

I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately when it comes to Christian fiction. I've not really enjoyed much of anything in several months--most of the summer really. But The Frontiersman's Daughter changed my luck. I just loved--and I do mean loved--this one. It's good historical fiction with a touch of romance.

Set in the 1770s in Kentucke (which is Indian Territory at this time) it is the story of Lael Click, daughter of Ezekiel Click, one of the first frontiersman in Kentucke. When the novel first opens, our heroine is just thirteen. But as young as that is, it's not too young to have caught the notice of Captain Jack. But I'm rushing into things aren't I? Oh well. That can hardly be avoided. The white settlers have an ongoing struggle for peace with their Indian neighbors, the Shawnee. And Ezekiel Click is an interesting case. A white man who was 'captured' (he chose to surrender instead of to fight) by the Shawnee and lived among them several years. He learned their language, learned their ways, earned their respect. Captain Jack is another white man--one captured as a young boy--living among the Shawnee. He is one of them. When the novel opens, a group of Shawnees are visiting the Click cabin. They're speaking with Ezekiel. And at one point, one asks--in English--to see his young daughter, to see Lael. He asks her to let down her hair. She does. And he obviously likes what he sees because he starts leaving presents for her to discover--a necklace of blue beads, a blanket, etc. But her mother has something to say about this! She won't stand for it. Not one little bit. So Lael is sent away--rather quickly--to visit Ma Horn, a woman who knows her herbs and is known as a healer. Lael learns her art, her techniques, something that will prove helpful later on in life.

The novel spans almost a full decade. We see Lael grow up. Lael loves the outdoors. She loves living in this 'wild' and 'uncivilized' place. So she's most unhappy when her father sends her away--sends her to Briar Hill, a school in Virginia that will teach her how to be a lady--a proper lady, civilized. It isn't until her father's death that she is able to return to Kentucke, to the land she loves.

She's strong. She's intelligent. We see her being pursued by several men: Simon (the brother of her best friend), Captain Jack (her father's friend, a white man living as an Indian), and Ian Justus (a young Scottish doctor). Which man is right for her?

What did I love about this one? The characters. The story. The details. I felt a connection with this one almost immediately. It was an absorbing read, one that was hard to put down.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Laura Frantz said...

Bless you for such a wonderful review!! An editor friend of mine read your post and forwarded to me. You do a fine job of sharing Lael's journey and I thank you for it. I know what it's like to be in a reading slump. Glad my book relieved that a bit:) Book 2 is coming up next year and I pray it warms your heart as well. Again, thank you so very much!

Carla Gade said...

Great review. Laura Frantz's debut novel was wonderful and I can't wait to see more.