19th Century Love Story for Historical Fiction and Romance Fans

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Book review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M Eden - a historical fiction and love story - on Reading List

Growing up it was a great privilege to get an hour of TV time in the evening.  There were no DVRs or Netflix to use my hour watching whatever I could dream up... in fact the only way to watch a show that had already aired was to have set up the trusty VHS to record... and that was tricky... because no one could touch the TV while it recorded... anyone else know what I'm talking about???

So the options were limited... and they had to entertain the whole family, or at least the vast majority of the family because the cable came to the main TV... that was it... And as a result, I saw a lot of wholesome TV shows, especially when compared to today's standard...

All that to say, my childhood can easily be defined in categories of which shows were on the air... two of those included Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and Christy... and for some reason those to shows seem to be my standard for all historical fiction... which is probably not fair... but something to keep in mind as I share this brand new book, Ashes on the Moor, by Sarah M Eden.

Book review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M Eden - a historical fiction and love story - on Reading List

Ashes on the Moor

Sarah M Eden

Story Overview

Evangeline Blake only knows how to live a privileged life in Cambridgeshire in 1871, so when the majority of her family dies of an illness, she is unprepared for the turn her life will take.  Evangeline and her sister Lucy find themselves being uprooted and moved to Yorkshire to start living a new life - apart from each other for the first time. 

Evangeline is told that she must teach in the new school of Smeatley where the families are the lower working class, most barely able to feed their families. She is in over her head with nowhere to turn. And depression sets in.  Determined to get Lucy back in her life, Evangeline battles every day to learn this new standard of life. 

Dermot McCormick is an Irishman living in Smeatley, who knows how deep prejudices against different ethnicities can run. But he is determined to find a better life for his son, which means getting him and English education.  So as a skilled brick mason he has found his way to Smeatley to work as the head of the crew for the mill manager.  If he can't be accepted because of his heritage, he will earn the respect of some based on his work ethic. 

Personal Likes

I enjoyed Evangeline as a character - she reminded me of Christy, so you know that's a win!  She had a goal and she stayed focused on it.  Granted life was hitting her pretty hard, but each day she tried again. And that's admirable.

I appreciated the author's passion for the history of Yorkshire as she explained in her acknowledgments (yes those are always worth reading!).  She clearly did a ton of research for this book and that's nice as too many historical fictions fall more into historical fantasy anymore.

Book review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M Eden - a historical fiction and love story - on Reading List

Personal Dislikes

Unfortunately, this book had more dislikes for me than likes... probably because my standard for historical fiction are TV shows... or because I haven't been pulled into many historical fiction stories recently...

While the author's goal of preserving the history of Yorkshire ended up being the biggest stumbling block for me as she focused on their language, which was so very hard to understand, but then, instead of allowing the readers to figure it out with Evangeline, she would break up the dialogue with long paragraphs explaining what they meant... it was very tedious and broke up the flow of the story over and over.

And because of the hit to the pace of the book, I wasn't drawn into to the characters, I didn't care as the relationship developed, I didn't have any investment in their happy ending.  So it was too predictable and expected (which is fine usually if I'm drawn to the characters...)

Reading List Rating

I am giving this book three hearts though because I think it lost a heart because I'm just not feeling the genre right now.  I am pretty sure this will be a big hit with many readers, so do not allow my minor opinions dissuade you as it's a well-written book. 

My Suggested Audience

This is a very clean book and story so I would say it's appropriate for younger readers who are interested in the time period.  As there is a ton of research supporting this setting it would be an excellent choice for those teens who are into history.  And of course, fans of historical fiction with a bit of a love story will be enamored by it.

Wondering Questions to Consider

This story does open up the door for many discussion points - the author even included a few in the back of the book.  One of the main themes is the prejudice people have towards others who are different.  With the book focusing on the issues of ethnicity and class, it is interesting to consider all the other points that lead to discrimination. And why it happens, how to keep it from happening, and how to combat it.

Book review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M Eden - a historical fiction and love story - on Reading List

I want to know how TV watching went at your homes growing up!  Did you have a bunch of TV time? Did you have to share the time with your family?  Do you even know the shows I mentioned at the beginning of the post? 

I'd love to hear from you, please leave me a little note!

Marissa @ Reading List

**If you are considering purchasing this book, please consider using the affiliate link here - it doesn't cost you anything extra, and it would simply make my day!!  In fact, just click through and do your shopping, even if you decide not to get this particular book. TIA

***If you're interested in writing a book review on Reading List, please message me on the Facebook page! If you're curious about a book, ask me...  I love to hear from you! If you would like your book reviewed on Reading List, email me: the link is at the bottom of this page.

**** Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Shadow Mountain. 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.”

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  1. I remember life before VCR was common. My sister and I had a favorite TV show we liked to watch at lunchtime and we would have to rush home from wherever we were to watch it. I remember being so excited when we finally got a VCR and could record it. But, as you said, even the VCR had huge downsides.


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