Against the Tide, by Elizabeth Camden

Against the Tide, by Elizabeth Camden

Reason for Reading: I’m leading the discussion of Against the Tide for the ACFW Bookclub on 5/27 – 5/31. If you would like to join the discussion (or see what else the bookclub is doing) you can join the Yahoo Group. There’s still time to read this fantastic book!

Genre: Christian Historical Romance 

Review
Lydia Pallas grew up surrounded with instability, but she is finally content with her comforting home and rewarding job as a translator for the U. S. Navy. She meticulously organizes her surroundings so that, for the first time in her life, she feels she’s in control of her life. However, her landlords are now threatening to throw her out of the only stable home she’s ever had. She needs to raise several hundred dollars to buy her home by December. Seemingly fortuitously, Alexander Banebridge (Bane), a friend of her boss, offers to pay her a lot of money for some free-lance translation work. Even though Lydia begins to question the odd requests of Bane, she finds herself attracted to his cleverness, charm, and sense of humor. Soon, she is swept up into a dangerous world of opium smuggling. 

I have a lot of good things to say about this book. I loved the late 1800’s Boston setting – it’s a time which lends itself easily to romance. Although there were a few moments that I wondered if the language was historically accurate, I felt Camden did an excellent job with her research into opium trade. Despite (or possibly because of) Lydia’s OCD quirks, she was very lovable. I really found myself empathizing with her pain – losing her family, the stress of raising money to buy the only home she’s ever felt safe in, and her feelings for Bane. On the other hand, I inwardly groaned at her devotion to Bane and his cause. I totally understood WHY she was in love, but cringed at the foolishness of loving a man who claims he has no interest in marriage, but doesn’t mind a bit of flirting. But love is foolish, often, isn’t it? 🙂 I was sort of torn – I empathized with her frustrations with Bane, but I also wished she would find herself a nice dedicated man. This is a similar conundrum I felt while reading Jane Eyre – I wanted her to live happily ever after with the man she loved, but I thought she was risking too much by loving him. I guess that makes it more romantic, in some ways?

The other thing that I really appreciated about this book (though my attention was only drawn to it because I’m about to lead a book discussion): the questions that Camden provided at the end of the book were really deep! I didn’t realize how many sticky philosophical and spiritual questions were brought up in the story until I read the discussion questions. And they’re not spiritual questions that have an obvious “right-if-you’re-REALLY-a-Christian” answer, which is what a lot of end-of-book discussion questions in Christian Fiction seem to be. Personally, I don’t see the world in black and white, so I love the opportunity to discuss grey. 🙂

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