Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hold Me Close - My Review

Marguerite Martin Gray’s novel Hold Me Close is set during the late 1700’s in Charles Town, South Carolina.  During this time period, there is great tension and turmoil among the people, because while some Americans stand firm in their loyalty to the crown of England, others wish to claim their independence from the rules, regulations, and taxes held under British law.  In spite of the talk of war, many find they must soon make a choice regarding where they will stand.  Some want to believe that peace is the answer, yet peace only comes when there is true freedom and when the people of one country can agree on its government.  At present, there are too many ideas discussed, and there are too many individuals who do not agree with each other.  The Sons of Liberty and the Loyalists dispute about the ways the colonists should live their lives and violence begins to erupt amongst the people of Charles Town.  

Louis Lestarjette decides to embark upon his own journey as he leaves his beloved Paris to set sail for America.  He believes this new land will give him an opportunity to start over and will also give him a chance to make a profit in his business ventures.  His aunt and uncle own a mercantile in Charles Town, and he hopes to set up a deal with his uncle that will ensure a continuous trade between him and his brother, who still lives in France.  French goods in his uncle’s store should turn a profit, since so many colonists are not wanting to buy British wares.  However, Louis could never envision the challenges he would encounter during his stay in Charles Town.  While he wants to live a carefree life by using the knowledge from his business training, God has other plans.  New friends, a mysterious girl, and trouble among the colonists change his plans in ways he never desired.  Perhaps though these new plans will give Louis the life he never thought possible.  Will Louis embrace these changing dreams or will he abandon life’s unforeseen possibilities?  

Elizabeth Elliot lives in a household that is loyal to King George.  Yet Elizabeth is uncertain about what she believes.  Women do not typically concern themselves with political matters, but it does not mean they do not see or understand what is taking place around them.  In spite of what she hears on a daily basis from her father, Elizabeth finds herself on an opposite platform.  As she begins to see the views from those opposed to the crown, she believes the American people have been mistreated by the king.  Her thoughts are muddled by those she loves and by the man her father wants her to marry—a British soldier.  Life becomes even more complicated when she meets a young Frenchman named Louis.  Private French lessons turn into a friendship that Elizabeth never considered and love takes her by surprise.  Will Elizabeth give her heart to a man that is opposed tp or loyal to the teachings of her father?  Or will she be brave enough to make up her own mind and take a stand for all she holds dear?  

This book was brilliantly composed and held true to the historical facts of the day.  Interestingly, there really was a Louis Lestarjette and an Elizabeth Elliot.  It was wonderful to note that the author researched this information, and the short fact section at the end of the text relays this evidence.
I love historical novels, and this book was no exception.  It was interesting to consider the opposing views of the Frenchman and the British, and to see how desperately Louis wanted to remain neutral.  After all, his purpose in Charles Town was only to help further his own career and personal goals.  However, he finds that it becomes too difficult to remain in this line of thinking.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in early America.  How did one decide where his or her loyalty would remain?  If one had family in England, how did you break those ties?  And yet, if you were searching for a new or better life, would you decide to go against the laws of your homeland?  We are truly indebted to the colonists—what brave people.  Their choices began the start of America and the great land we love today.  Never forget the sacrifices of others.  This interesting tale reminded me of this very fact, and it also introduced me to a myriad of lively historical characters that would be lovely to know in real life.  

If you are looking for a great historical read, I highly recommend reading this book.  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Singing Librarian Books for my copy. 

About The Book

*Louis Lestarjette, a Frenchman, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1772 without purpose or plans. He encounters a society on the brink of revolution and is forced to make decisions that include finding meaning and direction in his carefree life. Who can he trust in his endeavors to prosper? Will he be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence? When decisive events confront him, will he stay or leave? Running from God and commitment is a constant option.

Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of a prominent British citizen, believes God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with making difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, her role in the political battle is challenged. Can she trust her heart in volatile situations?

Set in pre-revolution Charles Town, Hold Me Close takes the reader into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.

About The Author 

Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she received a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband and Cleo, her cat, in Abilene, Texas.
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