Title: Between Two Shores
Author: Jocelyn Green
Major Themes: Canadian History, French and Indian War, Historical Fiction, Romance
Synopsis: Torn between her Indian siblings and drunkard French father, with a war pressing ever closer on the horizon, life seems to be spinning out of control when the one person Catherine hoped to never see again steps into her life once more.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book about the French and Indian War before—certainly not one from the perspective of the French! It took a long time for me to get into Between Two Shores, but once I did, it went quickly. I’ve read very few books set in Canada, as well, so that also made the story interesting. I loved the setting; I feel like I got to “see” a bit of Canada through this, and that really helps in bringing the overall history to life.
Catherine Duval, half-Mohawk, half-French, has always had trouble figuring out where she belongs. She wants to help her father, especially now that her mother is dead, but he will have nothing to do with her brother and sister, who identify with the Mohawks.
Now that war has broken out between the English and the French, her trading business isn’t as easy as it once was. Having buyers on both sides of the conflict—and the need to trade with both to keep the business going—doesn’t make the task easier. Then, the French send to Montreal for the wheat to be harvested, and she and the other women are forced to work long hours to get it gathered and sent off to the starving French army. Matters become even worse when her father buys a slave again, an English prisoner-of-war. Catherine knows him all too well. They were even engaged at one point, before he broke her trust. Can she deal with his presence, the continuing trouble with the French, and the tensions in her family? Will the war—in her heart and on the battlefield—ever come to an end?
In some ways, Between Two Shores reminded me of Jane Eyre. I love that book so much—and maybe I can make time to re-read it again soon—but my favorite part in that story is the romance. I love how God’s principles were upheld even when the characters really wanted things to go a different way, and how that turned out for the good in the end. Between Two Shores was similar; there was a romance in the story, and though it wasn’t an overtly Christian book, it was really interesting to see how that romance was handled here. It felt quite different, in some ways, from your normal historical romance read, and I loved that (I’d like to say more, but…#spoilers).
My favorite part was definitely the history. I loved hearing a little about what life was like back then, how trading stores operated, and what the Indian tribes were doing at the time. It was also an intriguing snapshot of the war, as you would get a little glimpse here and a little one there of what was going on alongside many people’s normal lives. The sibling aspect was also good—difficult, in some ways, but good to see them sticking together and working to develop their relationship more and support each other. And I loved that, after reading this book, I instantly had a “been there!” connection with the Plains of Abraham when I heard a mention from my siblings’ history a few weeks later. That wasn’t a very nice scene, but I doubt I’ll forget that aspect of the French and Indian War now!
If you’re looking for a good historical fiction, or a romance that’s not too over-the-top but still has a strong story besides, Between Two Shores might be for you. It didn’t strike me as having very strong Christian themes, although there was a bit here and there. But it was a great portrait of the times, of the struggle between the English, French, and Indians as they all tried to find their piece of the New World and somehow get along (or not!). I’m thankful I got the chance to read it—that part of history will never look quite the same to me again!
“ ‘What is courage,’ he said, ‘but moving forward in the face of fear? If there was nothing to be afraid of, we would have no need to be brave.’ ” —Samuel
I requested a free review copy of this book from NetGalley, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: A man hits or otherwise hurts a girl in ch. 2, 3, and 8. A man is drinking in ch. 2 and 3. A man tries to kill a woman in ch. 29. References to the fact that a boy was born out of wedlock are made in ch. 6. A man eyes up a girl’s shape in ch. 7.
Mentions are made of people killed in Indian raids in ch. 2, and 23 (eyewitness account). Men are badly hurt in ch. 5, 23 (pretty awful), 27 (pretty awful), 28, and 31. A man dies in ch. 28. Scalps are mentioned in ch. 8 (a girl was forced to buy some here), 23, and 32 (awful details). A battle is described in ch. 19 (some awful details), 22 (at least two men killed, others badly injured), 27 (eyewitness, pretty awful), and 32 (some awful details).
Someone swears or curses in ch. 8, 21, 24, 27, and 33. People lie in ch. 24. The phrase “for the love of all that is holy” is used in ch. 29. An unmarried man and woman touch in ch. 11, 20, 25, and 30. An unmarried man and woman kiss in ch. 12 (some description) and 14.
In ch. 2, a woman remembers being humiliated by being stripped naked and cleaned when she first went to school. Also in ch. 2, a mention is made of a man who lost his arm in a trapping accident, then had to have more amputated. In ch. 3, a man tells about someone who died from starvation, and various ways of people possibly being killed is described. In ch. 8, a mention is made about a man: “He ransoms little girls, just pretty ones. But no one ever sees them again.” A girl and boy are whipped in ch. 8. A man and woman are alone at night with little clothing on in ch. 12 (nothing happens, but I didn’t really appreciate the setting). There is also a scene in ch. 20 where a man and woman are alone together (again, nothing bad happens). There is a fight in ch. 16, and a man is unjustly accused and injured. In ch. 17, a man is nearly burned to death in a barn that is on fire (somewhat tense). People nearly overturn in a boat in ch. 19 (maybe I just find it somewhat tense because I’ve been in the situation before?). In ch. 20, a girl tells of hearing her mother crying about her baby right before she was killed. In ch. 23, a woman has to get some arrows out of dead men (some description). A woman nearly drowns in ch. 26.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults