The back cover promo for this book says: "Join two Incomparable Sisters on Adventures That Span the Decades And Cross the Globe."
The blurb continues: “In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert--and into a sandstorm." The story switches settings from Sinai to Chicago numerous times.
Lynn Austin often takes her inspiration for her novels from historical characters or events. The main characters, Flora and Rebecca Hawes, were inspired by Scottish sisters, Agnes and Margaret Smith. The Smith sisters were self-educated. In 1892, they discovered a copy of an ancient Biblical text, an early version of the Gospels, in a monastery in Sinai. Flora and Rebecca were wealthy socialites in Chicago. Though wealthy, they were more interested in adventures and education than in the requirements of genteel society.
Austin’s story begins with the sisters on their trip to Sinai in 1890. They were accompanied by Soren Peterson, their butler whom they had rescued from an orphanage and jail, plus Kate Rafferty, another orphan they were training to be a ladies’ maid. While coping with the dangers of the desert journey, the main characters have flashbacks of how they ended up in this situation. The book is lengthy, 470 pages, and I felt that the story was off to a slow start. At first, I couldn't keep up with the flashbacks, but, as I became more familiar with the characters, the flashbacks made sense. I admire the way Austin resolved the conflicts between the characters and engineered happy endings for all the characters.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction, the Victorian era, and the role of women in society during that time.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”