Monday, June 2, 2008

GENTLE JOURNEY? Maybe, Except for the Bumps and Curves

When I first saw the title of this novel by Elaine Lyons Bach, I was expecting something kind of dull. I was wrong. Very wrong.

Gentle Journey is set in England during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. It is filled with details to fit that time period and the culture of the day. This third-person narrative follows a young daughter of a vicar, Eden Barret, who is seeking employment that can help her large family (her father has died), give her fulfillment, and lead her to a place where she can help the unfortunate on a large scale. And England at the time is full of unfortunates. Orphans, widows and the poor weren’t taken care of very well as a whole, and tender-hearted Eden had seen a lot of misery as she assisted her father with the sick, the dying, and the poverty-stricken in his parish. Eden herself has a strong faith in God and high moral values.

When she applies for a job as a governess/tutor for 12-year-old Diana, only daughter of the Earl of Edmund, Eden doesn’t really know what she’s getting herself into. She finds an estate much greater than she ever imagined with comforts extended even to herself that make it a very cozy position. She enjoys teaching the bright young lady, but is constantly on the edge of trouble with the current Lord Edmund, Diana’s brother Colin. Colin has a great deal of resentment built up against God and forbids Eden from ‘preaching’ to Diana. Eden has a difficult time with her temper and her tongue, so the two of them end up in sparring matches quite often. They drive each other crazy, yet are strangely attracted to each other at the same time.

So far it doesn’t sound very exciting, but the turmoil is brewing in several quarters. From the beginning of her employment, Eden makes a bitter enemy with a chimney sweep when she insists that he stop abusing the two small children that he has bought to work for him. He festers over the loss of his crew and plans revenge that takes some very dark turns. She also needs to contend with the cavalier dandy who is an old acquaintance of Colin’s, brother to a lady that everyone expects Colin to marry. And then there’s Diana, who adores Eden but fears that she and Colin will become too interested in each other, leaving her out of the picture. Her scheming doesn’t involve the danger that some of the others did, but indirectly it causes a great deal of trouble.

Integral to the story is the whole situation of orphans and the poor at this time. Eden has plenty of opportunities to share her kindness and comfort others in ways she would have never imagined, but to say more gives away a good deal of the later events in the story. Some very real situations are dealt with, such as rape, murder, infidelity, death, poor medical conditions, sufferings of war, and abuse; these situations are presented honestly, but without gratuitous violence or grit.

I really loved the style of Gentle Journey, so reminiscent of Jane Austen, and intentionally so. A couple of Miss Austen’s books are even mentioned as being popular at the time. For anyone else who is a fan of Jane Austen, I can readily recommend Gentle Journey for you reading pleasure. I think it would be an excellent choice for summer reading .

Tomorrow's tag team entry on the CFRB blog tour will be on Laura Davis' blog. The tour started yesterday with Bibliophile's Retreat with a great interview. Thursday, the baton is passed to Rebecca Wire, who also posted an interview today. Also check out a humorous but amazingly accurate "fake" review by Stephen L. Rice at Back to the Mountains.

Elaine Lyons Bach has a page at

Information for Gentle Journey, including an audio excerpt, a written sample, and links for buying the book (including email download copy) are here.

Book Details:

Gentle Journey
Elaine Lyons Bach
Fiction, Romance
Outskirts Press (February 9, 2007) 248 pgs
ISBN: 978-1598009040


MissBookworm said...

This book looks really interesting! (spoken by a true Jane Austen fan..) I'll have to check it out!

Rebornbutterfly said...

Ok so you have me intrigued, although i am a jane austen cynic, I have to find out for myself if it is truly similar :)

Thanks Cathi!

David said...

Way to go Cathi! Great post. And thanks for Sunday's post too. I knew that wasn't part of the Tag Team post. I just wanted to show people how our members often go above and beyond what they're called to do. God bless.

BTW, I'm not much of a Jane Austen fan, but I am definitely an Elaine Lyons Bach fan. She found a way to make romance interesting to this suspense type reader.

cathikin said...

Butterfly and Bookworm I know you two are true Jane Austen scholars. Now I am not going to say that Gentle Journey is exactly like Jane Austen or even quite at her level, just as I can't put anyone else on the same level as C. S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien. These are icons to me, authors that can't really be bested. But Elaine Bach has really done a great work in my opinion, and I think the two of you will also enjoy it.

Elaine Bach said...

I sure wouldn't compare myself with Jane Austen, but I did try to sprinkle the work with the idoms and dialects of the time, while writing so that the uninitiated would have no problem understanding it either. I definitely spent so much time researching that I began to live in that time and often resented being pulled back to this one. I since have achieved balance and can live in the moment and enjoy my grandkids and friends knowing I can enter that time portal anytime I wish. Thanks for the sweet words about Gentle Journey, Cathi. You have been such a support for me. You, too David. It is so encouraging to know the book appeals to both sexes. Elaine Lyons Bach

Pamela J said...

Sounds like the harder Eden tries to do right, it goes wrong. I may have to keep on my toes reading this one. Thanks for sharing.
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Lacresha Hayes said...

I think this is going to be a book that goes on the shelf, so to speak. I love these kinds of books and am a big, HUGE Jane Austen fan.

Keep writing, Elaine. Great post, Cathi!

becca dowling said...

I wouldn't have picked up the book on the shelf just from the title or cover. Thanks for the glimpse inside. It's definitely on my TBR list now.


Anonymous said...

Definitely an Austen fan. Please enter me.

bookwurm70 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Cherie J said...

Sounds like a wonderful story. I appreciate learning about this author.

Charlotte Schofield said...

Looks pretty cool!!! I'd love to check it out

TK said...

this is book sounds like a must read and that you will be on the edge of your seat for every page you read. Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks TK. vcw1476(at)gmail(dot)com

stampedwithgrace said...

This sounds like a great read!

Carole said...

I would never have seen this book except for your blog, Cathi. So thank you! I would definitely like to read it.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net