Not by Sight
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Gripping Sophomore Novel from a Rising Historical Romance Talent
With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.
Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.
And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.
Spies vs. a young woman
Once I picked this up, I did not stop to sleep until it was done! There is incredible suspense in this, and there's no way to know who to trust. There were lots of lines to keep up with–Grace's missing brother, Jack's career, her father's likely treason, the girls on the work farm...and I doubt I'd have had such a rich reading experience if I hadn't read it all in one glorious gulp. As it was I noticed the poetry of moments like when she's learning how to describe scenery properly, or felt the significance of someone's headache on a dance night, or caught the little ironic hints from Dr. Strum, who obviously knows more about Jack's actions than he lets on, or the nuances of what's happening with Jack's imperiled inheritance. It's a spy story at its best, and there were so many twists that it kept me guessing to the very end. The plot even reminded me of one of my favorite spy-story writers from that very era, E. Phillips Oppenheim.
Faith and Courage in Difficult Times
Kate Breslin's newest historical novel is definitely a winner! Not By Sight gives the reader a fresh understanding of the severity of World War I on the British homefront. The severity that brings to light the devastation and losses of war--loss of limb, livelihood and often life. Breslin softens this ugliness of war with a budding romance, fraught with conflict and a little comedy, and with beautiful descriptions of the English countryside. Readers learn of the work of the Women's Forage Corps, espionage, costume balls for the Red Cross Society, tea rooms, and the inevitable bombings of cities. Grace, a naive suffragette, opens Pandora's box of heartache when she unwittingly hands a white feather of cowardice to Jack, a well-known objector to the war. Readers will be captivated at the climactic twists and turns of the far-reaching effects of that initial episode in Not By Sight. Through her various and colorful, yet realistic characters, Breslin weaves a story of friendships, faith, and forgiveness. A story where lives are restored and hearts are mended. A story of courage and sometimes, foolhardiness. A story of learning to live by faith.
I received a complimentary copy of Not By Sight in exchange for an unbiased review.
Christian Shelf-Esteems review of Not By Sight
Why I chose this title…
Last summer I read Kate Breslin’s debut novel For Such a Time with the ladies of my Christian book club. It generated so much conversation and the story was so rich that I have anticipated the release of Not by Sight since last June. Well, it’s here–and it was worth the wait!
For her sophomore novel, Breslin has chosen to immerse her readers into a story of romance and espionage. The year is 1917, London is in the midst of the Great War with many young men valiantly serving in the war effort. At home, women patriots are doing their part by serving in the Women’s Forage Corps and the Women’s Land Army. It’s grueling work, but they hope their service to king and country will hasten the end of the war. A few conscientious objector “conchies” remain, who refuse to heed the call to arms. For example, Jack Benningham becomes the target of Ms. Gracy Mabry, whose move to publicly shame Benningham by giving him a white feather of cowardice sets off a sequence of irreversible and life altering events.
I found the character Grace to have a luminescent inner beauty which radiated into the lives of others. As I learned more about Grace, a multitude of bible verses about women living out our Christian faith came to mind such as 1 Peter 3:3-4, John 13:35, and 1 John 3:18 to list a few. Like all believers, her faith does not preclude her from making mistakes. In fact, her naiveté was both her greatest strength and an unfortunate weakness.
Unlike For Such a Time, which gave readers a front row seat to wartime atrocities, this book follows the war from a much safer distance. I find that it rests more heavily on the interpersonal relationships of the characters and less on the historical intrigue that won me to the author initially. Regardless, the book possessed exquisite imagery as well as a precious cast of characters, making it delightfully entertaining selection.
Not by Sight proved to be another book club worthy title by Breslin. It’s sure to stir up plenty of group conversation about friendships, forgiveness, misperceptions and betrayal.
** I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.**