Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Under the Same Sky, by Genevieve Graham

Review by Lavender Ironside

Genevieve Graham’s debut novel, set dually in Colonial America and Scotland, is a sweet, inspiring romance spiked with just enough action and mystery to keep the reader turning pages just as fast as she can.

Under the Same Sky follows the lives of two people destined to be lovers, though they are separated by a vast distance.  Maggie is the eldest daughter of a poor farming family in South Carolina, gifted with “the Sight” -- the ability to dream the future, and sometimes the present as well.  She is also able to summon up images of a boy her age living in an unknown place, and she and the dream-boy grow up together, constant companions who never the less have not yet met. 

The dream boy is Andrew, a Scottish lad of the MacDonnell clan.  As Andrew and Maggie grow to adulthood, he, his brothers, and father are swept into the war with England; meanwhile, Maggie’s family is devastated by the murder of their mother and the girls’ capture and attempted sale into sexual slavery.  Unthinkable tragedies befall Maggie’s family and Andrew’s, and the two set out to build new lives for themselves, still maintaining their mystical connection and the comfort that their strange friendship brings.

Maggie’s path leads her to take up with the local Cherokee village, where she is allowed to hone her skill with the Sight without fear of being burned as a witch.  Andrew, meanwhile, feels compelled to leave Scotland and head for the New World – partly to seek out Maggie, whom he can feel calling to him.

Graham’s prose at the beginning of the novel is absolutely rapturous, full of lush imagery and a quietly confident voice that had me hooked immediately.  My one quibble with the book is that after a few chapters that lovely prose settled into a plainer, more straightforward storytelling style – not an authorial crime by any means, but I did find myself wishing for more of that delicious prose as I read to the novel’s final scene.  In spite of that one complaint, Under the Same Sky is a well-paced book, switching deftly between the two point-of-view characters at just the right moments and never lagging too long between scenes of tension or action.

Ultimately, this is a novel about redemption – either Maggie or Andrew could have turned sour after the tragedies they’ve faced, but both choose to turn to the promise of love instead, and both take comfort and find purpose in caring for people in need.  They are inspiring characters, and it is a delight to watch their romance develop.  Genevieve Graham is one to watch for historical romance readers.

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