Bethany House (August 1, 2008)
I stumbled across The Gresham Chronicles several years ago when searching the library shelves for something other than the standard general fiction that plagues the adult section of most public libraries. While there are some decent authors out there I prefer to read a story I can follow without interference from extraneous details about this and that which bog down the plot instead of keeping me glued to the page to find out what’s next. I found these characters both easy to identify with and well-developed and the stories moved along at an acceptable pace. I fell in love with several of Blackwells inhabitants of this series, so when I discovered this new addition … I knew I had to check it out sooner than later. Having read the other books I cannot say for sure that a newbie to the series could get by without reading the others but I can say that Blackwell does provide alot of the backstory and details of characterization with the previous denizens of Gresham that someone who is encountering them for the first time in this book gets a large portion of what a reader would find in the previous volumes. I personally recommend reading series in order as it makes the experience so much richer to follow the people and events from square one instead of jumping into the middle and finding yourself in a muddle over some minor thing that doesn’t make sense.
So back to Jewel and Gresham. I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the Vicar and Mrs Hollis and their blended family of now mostly grown younguns along with all the other Greshamites from the earlier books. I also enjoyed Jewel and her daughter along with other new characters I met in this book. Oh of course there were the unpleasant people as well and I didn’t exactly enjoy them but they were needed for the story to have any life to it. An enjoyable villain just wouldn’t work IMO. I did feel the book started out a bit slow but I also already had alot of back story so much of the reintroduction of Gresham and previous characters was duplicating existing knowledge for me but would be welcomed by those who weren’t already familiar with the people and places from the other books. I enjoy reading about this period in history and by the end of the book Blackwell had me just as into the characters as I had been before and provided new characters for me to add to the family of Greshamites with whom I am acquainted. (ISBN#9780764205118, 416pp, $13.99)
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