Title: Trouble the Water
Author: Jacqueline Friedland
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not really a historical fiction connoisseur; I’ve read a bit, but its definitely not one of my go-to genres. But, all bets are off because I picked up Trouble the Water because it is a part of BookSparks’ Summer Reading Challenge this year and part of my excitement over participating in this challenge this summer is because I think it will expand my horizons a bit! I’ll be picking up quite a few different genres and books I wouldn’t otherwise read and sharing them all with you fine folks.
In Trouble the Water we are transported to pre-Civil War Charleston, South Carolina in the 1840’s. 17 year old Abigail Milton has just arrived on a boat from Europe, shipped off to live with one of her father’s recently widowed and oldest friends after it became clear that she was miserable and prone to outbursts and was becoming a burden on her downtrodden, impoverished large family.
With little physical baggage, but plenty of the emotional variety Abigail establishes herself in Mr. Douglas Elling’s large, empty household and Charleston’s complicated social scene. Meanwhile, Mr. Elling remains paralyzed by the grief of losing his wife and young daughter 2 years ago and has been unable to move forward or take any action in regaining a semblance of the life he held so dear and the causes he once felt so passionately about. Will they find some common ground? Will they become what each other needs to move on from their pasts?
Set against the backdrop of the agitated 1840’s South, slavery has been abolished in the North and Southerners are fretful as resistance rises and the underground railroad is alive and well, Trouble the Water captivated me from page 1 and kept me turning the pages. I can’t really compare it to any other similar historical fiction pieces because I haven’t read many, but I can tell you I really enjoyed it. This was so much more than a story about a girl down on her luck in the 1840’s, it involved an exploration of living as a woman in the 1800’s, how scary and unstable life could be during this tumultuous time in history and how people can surprise you. I found Friedland’s pace to be perfect and every time I picked this one up I found myself pleasantly immersed in a time and place I’ve never been, with a cause and some characters worth rooting for! I’d recommend this to any historical fiction lover, hands down, and to any newbies like me willing to jump in to something new head first for the right book.
A big thank you to BookSparks and Spark Press for providing me with this copy to read and review!