Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic
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Disclosure: I obtained this book on 2 September 2016 when the Kindle edition was offered free. I do not know know the author and I have never had any communication with her about this book or about any other matter. I am an author.
To tell the truth, I have read -- or tried to read -- worse books than this. Ms. York, Ms. Willow Fae, Ms. Sharon Many-Names, and of course Mr. Victor come to mind, among others. But I've also read far better.
The basic plot: Young gentleman (though we don't know how old precisely) returns to England after five years as a missionary in India. He has been offered a position as teacher in a small village school. He encounters a young woman (we don't know exactly how old she is either) who turns out to be the town's social outcast. They fall in love, but she has a trunkload of baggage and he has no social graces, so they are constantly at odds and unable to sit down and have a civil conversation. When they finally do, they live happily ever after . . . .but not in the village.
Nothing extraordinary there, except that there's no external conflict at all. None. There's no tension, and other than their both being TSTL, there's no plot. There's no villain, no antagonist at all, and no obstacles in their path to happily ever after.
Leo Tyndale himself has no real baggage. He's kind of a klutz when it comes to social graces, but he doesn't appear to be poor or driven to avenge some family insult.
Hestia Royce has been shamed by a fiancé who jilted her at the altar, but she still has a home and apparently an estate that will support her.
So what's the problem? The only problem is that they're TSTL.
There are other problems, however, with the writing. Let's skip over the tepid plot and look at the details.
All we know about Leo's invitation to teach is
only the death of his parents and an invitation which he could not refuse would have brought him back.
Murdoch, Emily. A Harvest Passion (Kindle Location 107). Endeavour Press. Kindle Edition.
Nothing more is said about it, so the reader has no idea why this invitation was such that he could not refuse it. Was he offered a large sum of money? Was he being blackmailed? He seems to know no one in the village of Sandercombe, so whoever it was that issued the invitation never contacts him throughout the book and no further mention is made of why he returned to England.
He arrives in August, during the harvest, when the weather is hot. So very hot. Overwhelmingly, oppressively, blazingly, unbearably hot. Over and over and over and over, we are told how hot it is in England, hotter even than in India. There is never any rain, never any cooling breeze. Always hot. In the school house, in the guesthouse, everywhere, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot. Right on through September, stifling hot, boiling hot.
I didn't buy it. Nor did it really have anything to do with the story.
In my many updates, I detailed some of the many errors I came across, some as small and absurd as
There was a looking glass above an ewer with a pitcher of warm water beside it, and Leo gladly availed himself of it and
Murdoch, Emily. A Harvest Passion (Kindle Locations 47-48). Endeavour Press. Kindle Edition.
The ewer, of course, is the pitcher; Ms. Murdoch apparently doesn't know that there should be a basin to go with the pitcher, and that the ewer is not the same as the basin. Small details like this indicate the author has done little to no research and is relying on what she thinks.
But other errors have nothing to do with not knowing what a ewer, pitcher, and basin are.
Leo's ship arrives in Southampton on Saturday. In one paragraph, it's noonish, but two paragraphs later, the captain of the ship is crossing the deck in the evening glow. Unable to locate the stagecoach after docking, Leo sups in a tavern apparently sometime after eight o'clock. Yet he manages to arrive in Sandercombe, the village where the story takes place, that same evening!
This is sloppy writing and a complete lack of good editing. Oh, I'm sure there was someone in the author's circle of family and friends who read the book and loved it, but the book desperately wanted a competent editor to catch errors like this.
Why, at eleven o’clock on Saturday the 13th August 1814, just twenty-four hours ago, he had been standing at the brow of a ship as it came into Southampton Port.
Shouts had rung out in rough voices, and Leo had ducked as a brown faced sailor marched past him with a heavy anchor in his grip, three other man helping him with sweat dripping down from his face. The spray of the sea crashed against the side of the boat of which they had all been residents for the last six months, and Leo instinctively put his hand to the side to steady himself as the waves rocked them.
“Almost there, Mr Tyndale, sir,” called Captain Browne, beaming as he strode across the ship’s deck in the August evening glow.
Murdoch, Emily. A Harvest Passion (Kindle Locations 92-98). Endeavour Press. Kindle Edition.
Sailing ships of the early nineteenth century weighed many tons, and would not have been secured by an anchor that could be carried across a rolling deck by three or four men. Ships' anchors were massive metal weights attached to heavy chains and ropes so that they could be mechanically raised ("weighed") and lowered ("dropped") by means of a capstan on the deck. When the ship was under sail, the anchor was secured to the hull.
This again is the sort of thing that indicates the author has been careless and/or lazy.
Yet this little book of 80 pages is listed at $3.99!
I can understand the writer who has put together a little story and wants to share it for the fun of it. The writer doesn't really want to go to the trouble of doing any research -- not even to the proper forms of address for the English nobility! -- but thinks maybe other people will enjoy the little tale without pointing out the lack of accuracy.
Then don't charge so much for it. Put it out there on Kindle for $0.99 so you get a few royalties to cover the cost of the cover art, but for crying out loud, don't expect people to pay that kind of price for that crappy a product.
And don't brag about your academic credentials when you've got errors out the wazoo.
It appears from the data on the Amazon listing that most of the 14 reviews came from free copies. There are only five- and four-star reviews, and they are all gushing about how wonderful the book is. To compare this to Downton Abbey or Winston Graham's Poldark novels is outrageous -- and hints that perhaps the reviewers are not unbiased consumers. I haven't done any checking on that issue.
The book is not a Regency in the classic sense; it's just set in 1814. The story is thin, the characters are thinner, and the details are annoyingly wrong.
Pass on this one, unless you've run out of milk cartons, cereal boxes, and soup can labels to read.