I discovered Anna Belfrage with the third novel in this series, The Prodigal Son. First let me say it certainly stood on its own and I enjoyed it immensely. It did leaving me wanting more and fortunately Belfrage delivered, with her fourth installment to the series, A Newfound Land.
One of the strengths of the series and of each title standing alone is Belfrage's examination of different historical subjects within each. A Newfound Land has as its backdrop the British colonies of the America's and with it the slave trade, race relations within the colonies as well as the practice of slavery itself. At first I sort of bristled at the thought of the typical non-American judgment leveled at the colonies, particularly the South, for the ownership of other men, women and children. It was wrong without question, but the sin of slavery itself stains more than just the hands of American colonists. I expected the usual treatment of slavery and as a result the same of Americans ourselves.
What must be commended of Belfrage is that she does not sugar coat history nor does she skirt around its more unpleasant eras. Rather, she jumps right in to the deep end of the issue and her reader therefore must swim with her or sink. I think FAR more often than not they swim. Not only is she able to face the historical fact straight on Belfrage combines her forthrightness in the development of the characters that populate her novel. Each has his or her own very individual motivations and personality and Belfrage is able to maintain each character through to the last.
Belfrage, in this reader's opinion, has happened upon a series that could truly last her writing life, should she choose for it to do so. As each book is set within a historical era and the characters deal with the issues they are confronted with they do so as a family and in essence it is the family that is at the core of A Newfound Land as with the other titles in the series.
The matriarch, Alexandra Lind, as time traveler and her seventh century husband Matthew Graham might live an exciting life but it is not without pain and loss. For me, I found their union comforting as they weathered whatever life brought them as a partnership and must admit I had such faith in their unique, never perfect, bond.
A Newfound Land will surprise you by taking you unaware and pulling you into its pages and by the time the cover closes you will find yourself an Anna Belfrage fan for life. Now, back to wondering where she will take us next.