O Captain! My Captain!: A Book Review of Laura Frantz’s “A Heart Adrift”

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How did one let go of the past and risk love again?

Laura Frantz never fails to deliver an emotional, profound historical tale fortified with unique characters, as her latest novel, A Heart Adrift, attests. Colonial life in York, Virginia at the beginning of the French and Indian War proves to be a seminal time period, with many apt parallels to current events. Frantz deftly captures the social climate of the time and how multiple factors contributed to both public sentiment and political strategy, without ever sounding like a textbook. Because it seems that the vast majority of Colonial American fiction is set during or after the Revolutionary War, it is an interesting variation for the colonies to still belong to Britain and to be fighting against the French. This offers a new perspective, as well as insight into how the War for Independence came about.

Unconventional women are a hallmark of Laura Frantz’s fiction, and A Heart Adrift features Esmée Shaw, a chocolatier who has resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood after the man she loved walked out of her life a decade ago. A successful businesswoman, she seeks out the less fortunate to offer what she can rather than joining in the high society that her sister Eliza so enjoys, but both prove to be more intrepid than they seem. Eliza, in particular, demonstrates fascinating character development. Captain Henri Lennox, a privateer who may be the colonial government’s greatest asset, is a steadfast character whose role is more traditional, but he and the other main male figures in the story demonstrate the results of the social structure.

With a somber tone throughout much of the narrative, A Heart Adrift underscores the fact that no one is shielded from life’s hardships and heartaches, regardless of status. While fiction often provides an escape from the less pleasant aspects of life, there is so much value in works such as this one that address the suffering and those who have been blessed with the gifts to help. The Lord will always show up and put the right people in our lives at the right time. As Esmée reflects, “The only certainty about life was its uncertainty. Only God stayed steadfast. Only the Almighty could walk her through life’s many changes. And when she felt overwhelmed, like now, she simply had to look back to see how faithful God had been, did she not? The heartaches and closed doors of the past had made the present more beloved.” None of the trials that we face today are new. The smallpox outbreak, the glimpses into the inhumanity yet widespread acceptance of the slave trade, and the encroaching war in A Heart Adrift all have their direct parallels to today’s headlines. The lighthouse in the novel seems to serve as a beacon for not only Chesapeake Bay and colonial Virginia, but also for contemporary readers who may feel as if their own hearts are adrift. Coming home to the One who loves us, the true Light of the World, is the only way that we can truly live with our hearts firmly anchored amidst life’s storms.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Buy your copy HERE

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