I’ve been reading the Graham Saga historical novels for just over a year now. To Catch A Falling Star by Anna Belfrage, who is on a Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tour with the book, is the last in the eight book timeslip historical fiction series set in the seventeenth century. I began reading the series at Book 5, Serpents in the Garden, in April 2014 and followed it with Book 6, Revenge and Retribution, in September 2014 then Whither Thou Goest in December 2014. I have now finished To Catch A Falling Star, the conclusion of the series. I received a free copy of each book in exchange for an honest review of it.
The publisher, Silverwood Books, describes To Catch a Falling Star as “the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s series featuring time traveller Alexandra Lind and her seventeenth century husband, Matthew Graham.
Some gifts are double-edged swords …
For Matthew Graham, being given the gift of his former Scottish manor is a dream come true. For his wife, Alex, this gift will force her to undertake a perilous sea journey, leaving most of their extensive family in the Colony of Maryland. Alex is torn apart by this, but staying behind while her husband travels to Scotland is no option.
Scotland in 1688 is a divided country, torn between the papist Stuart king and the foreign but Protestant William of Orange. In the Lowlands, popular opinion is with Dutch William, and Matthew’s reluctance to openly support him does not endear him to his former friends and neighbours.
While Matthew struggles to come to terms with the fact that Scotland of 1688 bears little resemblance to his lovingly conserved memories, Alex is forced to confront unresolved issues from her past, including her overly curious brother-in-law, Luke Graham. And then there’s the further complication of the dashing, flamboyant Viscount Dundee, a man who knocks Alex completely off her feet.
All the turmoil that accompanies their return to Scotland pales into insignificance when a letter arrives, detailing the calamities threatening their youngest daughter in Maryland – at the hand of that most obnoxious minister, Richard Campbell. Matthew and Alex have no choice but to hasten back, no matter the heartache this causes.
Will they make it back in time? And what will Richard Campbell do?”
Everything I’ve written about the previous books in the series holds true for this one so I apologise in advance for repeating myself. To Catch A Falling Star is well written with a plot that keeps the reader turning the pages.
The settings in this series of novels seem to have a life of their own and I love their diversity. This time we are back in Maryland as well as venturing across the ocean to revisit the Grahams’ Scottish home place as the Jacobite risings are beginning. The author skilfully contrasts the geographic and climatic features of these two places, vividly describing them so that they are easy for the reader to imagine. With Alex, I felt the cold loneliness of the Scottish countryside and longed to sit in the warmth of a Maryland meadow.
In each book in this series, I’ve found the characters believable and engaging and I became immersed in their stories. I enjoyed following the developments in Sarah’s and Samuel’s lives this time and meeting Alex’s adult son, Isaac. I was also delighted when one of my favourite characters, Fr Carlos Munoz returned to the story. Alex’s wily brother-in-law, Simon Melville, acquitted himself much better in this book than he did in a previous one and I found myself liking him again. In this book I especially enjoyed the convincing way historic figures were woven into the story – meeting Viscount Dundee was indeed a pleasure.
For readers who haven’t followed the saga, it wouldn’t be difficult to pick up the threads of the story even though this is the last book in the series. Details from previous books are seamlessly woven into the novel and explained so that the reader isn’t confused. It’s possible to read To Catch A Falling Star as a standalone book or as part of the series. And for the reader who has been engrossed in the saga, all the threads from previous books come together in this book for a satisfying conclusion to the story.
I can honestly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, fantasy/time-slip or just a good story.
About Anna Belfrage: Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she is multilingual and most of her reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.
She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career she raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays she spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there. She was always going to be a writer. Now she is – she has achieved her dream.