Allow me to preface this by saying that if you enjoy historical fiction and have not read any of Kate Breslin’s books, you are truly missing out. Her stories shine in this genre for their factual historical accuracy and their heart. The redemptive thread woven throughout each novel whispers hope and encouragement to the reader. Not only will you learn something along the way, but you’ll also connect with her characters on an emotional and perhaps spiritual level. That is the mark of exceptional historical fiction. Achieving that delicate balance of plot, history, and character requires skill, and Breslin always executes it brilliantly.
“Far Side of the Sea” exceeds all of Breslin’s previous books for its excitement and complexities. Although it can serve as a standalone, readers will benefit from reading “Not By Sight” first, as “Far Side of the Sea” is a sequel of sorts and will spoil who ends up with whom. Picking up “Far Side of the Sea” is like stepping into 1918 England in the midst of World War I. The story takes place apart from the actual conflict, yet the battle exists as a haunting echo throughout the narrative. War hero Colin Mabry answers the beckoning of Jewel, the girl he left behind a year ago, only to find that the woman who contacted him is her sister, Johanna, who believes that Jewel is being held against her will by a German agent. In spite of his suspicions, he heeds the call of his conscience, and in so doing falls down the rabbit hole of espionage and tenuous alliances on a cross-country mission.
Aside from having read “Not By Sight” when it released, I went into “Far Side of the Sea” knowing only that it was Colin’s story. I purposely did not read the summary beforehand because I did not want to ruin any surprises. And were there ever surprises! You know that the author is doing a fantastic job with her characters when you do not know whom to trust and when they continually turn your perceptions upside down. The plot is impressively intricate, with layer upon layer of intrigue right up to the last. Yet within all of the espionage is a tender love story and a budding faith, heartwarming moments amidst the realities of war. Also, some thought-provoking historical tidbits pepper the narrative. It never occurred to me that carrier pigeons only fly one way, and I did not know that a facsimile of Paris was constructed to divert German Gotha bombers. Colin’s struggle with the aftereffects of shell shock, now known as PTSD, and the role that this plays in the story is both heartwrenching and captivating and is handled gracefully. Much of what makes “Far Side of the Sea” so compelling is that it opens the door to the world a century ago and shows us that it is not so very removed from our world today. We still grapple with our own personal fears, but when we find and strengthen our faith in the One who made us and loves us, we realize that nothing can separate us from Him, not even if we find ourselves on the far side of the sea.
About the Book
In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life--a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.
Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel's half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.
When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.
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About the Author
Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing's 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, was shortlisted for both the Christy and RITA awards and received the American Christian Fiction Writer's 2015 Carol Award for Debut Novel. Kate's third novel, High As The Heavens, released June, 2017. When she's not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington's beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas. Please visit her at www.katebreslin.com.