Hewitt, K. (2013). Far horizons: The emigrants trilogy. Kate Hewitt Ltd.
Kindle $0.99 (Only Kindle version available), 262 pages
Author’s Website and Interviews:
(I was unable to retrieve any other reviews for this particular book)
Annotation: They felt worlds apart from each other and Allan knew that he should have set her free but promises aren’t meant to be broken.
Summary: Set in Scotland in 1819, Harriet Campbell and Allan MacDougall have been close since they were small children. Now on the night before he is to set sail to America with his family, Allan confesses his love for Harriett and must leave her behind due to her father not allowing her hand in marriage. He asks her to promise that she will wait for him until he is able to make a name for himself and has the means to bring her to America. Harriett is torn by her desire to join Allan in America and her duty to her father and younger siblings. Weeks pass before she receives any word from Allan and then his letters stop coming. She assumes that he has moved on and so she decides to move on with her life despite the fact that she still loves him. She learns that her family farm is in severe debt and will most likely go under now that her father is bed ridden and unable to work the farm. She is approached one day by James Riddle, a prominent man who owns most of the Island of Mull, and is asked to tutor his niece on the pianoforte in exchange for something she wants. Harriett realizes that Mr. Riddle had intercepted a letter from Allan to use as leverage for her help. She begins tutoring his niece and meets his nephew Andrew who soon develops strong feelings for her. She is conflicted by her love for Allan yet her desire to move on and start fresh. One day Harriett is on her way to town to sell off some of the family land to help pay down debts but her younger brother Ian insists he go in her place since he is now the man of the family. He meets Mr. Riddle along the way who offers to buy the parcels of land and presents him with a contract to sign. Ian is so memorized by the money that he fails to read the contract and doesn’t know he has sold the entire family farm to Riddle. Harriet learns of his mistake and is aided by Andrew in her attempt to gain enough money to buy it back. Andrew offers her a solution of marriage stating that if they are married his uncle would ensure that she would keep the farm. She accepts his marriage proposal and writes to Allan telling him that she has regrettably moved on and is the only way to save her family’s farm. Allan devastated by Harriett’s broken promise, sets out in pursuit of his own dreams away from the oppressing demands of his father and family obligation.
Evaluation: The book started out rather slow but eventually picked up pace once Allan and his family left for Canada. I thought the author did a great job with character development and the writing was very beautiful and captured the longing between Allan and Harriet. However, I did feel the story jumped around quite a lot and it was often hard to follow what was going on. The storyline did feel a bit dry at times as if it weren’t progressing but then the next page would thrust the story forward again. I appreciated that Harriet was written as such a strong female character especially given the time period and I feel that her character complimented Allan’s very well. The writing for her character was strong and it allowed the reader to develop a bond with her and you felt like her plights were your own. I found myself cheering Allan and Harriet on and was devastated when she agreed to marry Andrew who I felt was not the proper choice for her. The storyline hooked me and I became vested in these two individuals. The writing was extremely descriptive and for a few brief moments I felt like I had been transported to 19th century Scotland.
Genre: Historical Fiction (Romance)
Appeal Factors: Beautifully written, strong character development, strong female characters, adventure, romance, and betrayal. It is a rather quick read and the pace picks up quickly as the book progresses. The storyline is rich and well developed.
Read-alike Titles and Authors:
A Second Chance (Promises to Keep) by Shayne Parkinson
Far Away Home by Susan Denning
Out of Time by Deborah Truscott
Love in Disguise by Carol Cox
This book has not won any awards.
- Empathetic response: Ask reader questions that would put them in Harriet’s or Allan’s shoes. Discuss the theme of the book and ask questions to help evoke an emotional response. How does it feel to be separated from the one you love? How would you feel if your father had not allowed you to marry the man you love? How does it feel to be a young woman in 19th century Scotland with limited power and prospects?
- If/then scenarios: Let the reader or audience come up with other possibilities for key parts of the book. If Allan had told Harriet that he loved her soon, then she would have sailed to America and started a new life. If Harriet had received all of Alan’s letters, then she would not have felt forced to marry Andrew.
- Connect the relevancy of events in the book to that of the reader’s life. Get readers to relate, find common ground and connection with the plight of the characters. Have you ever been in a similar situation? Have you ever had to sacrifice love for family? Have you ever had to walk away from someone you love? Have you ever had to make a difficult decision?
Book Discussion Questions:
1. Do you think Allan should have told Harriet sooner about his feelings for her? Would it have changed the outcome of his leaving? Do you feel his decision to tell her was dishonorable? If so, why?
2. Why does James Riddle intercept one of Allan’s letters to Harriet?
3. Did you find Andrew’s actions admirable despite his stealing Allan’s letters? Do you think he really loved Harriet?
4. Why do you think Harriet’s character is written in such a strong female voice given the time period it was written for? What does this say about the role of women during this time?
5. Is Allan’s father disillusioned by preconceived notions of life in America? Why does he struggle so much to acclimate to his new life?
6. Were you shocked to learn that Harriett’s character was twenty three? Why do you think her character hadn’t married Allan sooner when the average age for women to marry and have children was much younger? Do you think this had an impact on their relationship and her willingness to marry Andrew so hastily?
I haven’t read much historical fiction but loved the fact that this particular book mixed historical fiction with romance. I had never heard of the author before coming across her name on Amazon. I read a few reviews on Amazon and Good Reads about Far Horizons and it sounded like it would be a heart wrenching love story which I am a sucker for. I also loved the time period it was set in and love any books that are set in Scotland. After reading an excerpt from the book I had to know how Harriet’s and Allan’s story ended. Did they end up together? Did she make it to America? Did they marry other people? Once I started asking myself these questions, I knew I had to read it to find out.