Saturday, 3 February 2007

Then Came Faith by Louise M. Gouge

4 Stars

This is the first novel I have read by Louise M. Gouge, author of the award winning Ahab's Legacy series.

Then Came Faith is an American civil war era tale about the usual protagonists, Juliana, the Northern abolitionist and Andre, the Southern slave owner. The difference with this novel is that it is set after the conclusion of the war and describes the issues and points of view of both characters with great clarity.

Juliana has moved to New Orleans with one goal - start a school for the children of former slaves and be a part of the South's recovery. Andre harbours great bitterness in his heart due to the shattering losses his family experienced at the hands of the Northern Army and the murder of his father by his best friend, a Southerner but Northern sympathiser.

Andre and Juliana's attraction is immediate yet upon hearing her Boston accent, Andre's instilled manners desert him and he vows never to speak to her again. Circumstances arise which bring Andre and Juliana into regular contact and despite the heated disapproval of their fledgling friendship by her confidant, Amelia, and Juliana's own reservations their romance blossoms. That is, until the realities of their moral and cultural differences interfere. Threats are made, people are murdered and deceit abounds which drives a wedge between the two that may be insurmountable.

Louise M. Gouge writes a fascinating tale of this period of reconstruction in the South and brings it alive in the reader's mind. Her characters are well developed and the secondary characters contribute much to the flavour of the book. The romance developed a little too quickly and initially felt somewhat contrived but this passed and I ended the book feeling the author gave a clear picture of the social tragedy of slavery while not over-demonising the position of the Southerners. The thread of mystery surrounding Andre's father's death wove in well with the romance and added substance and appeal to the story. This is the first in a series and I would recommend it especially to lovers of historical novels.


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