Book Review: Harcourt’s Mountain
Author: Elaine Dodge
Genre: Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
I won this eBook in a contest.
Harcourt’s Mountain reads like a good frontier mini-series complete with a damaged mountain man; a sensible, sweet heroine; and a supporting cast of colourful characters with generous hearts or dastardly intentions.
The Whole story:
I was surprised to win this eBook. I was even more surprised to find myself thoroughly savouring and enjoying it; surprised because while I often enjoy historical fiction and romance fiction, I don’t often enjoy them together – unless it’s a Judith Merkle Riley or M.M. Kaye. So bravo to Elaine Dodge for this greatly satisfying novel.
Harcourt’s Mountain is set during the gold rush in British Columbia when brides could be bought at auctions, mountains could be won in poker games, and sailors could be press-ganged into sailing around the horn of South America.
Luke Harcourt, ex-navy and now apple-tree grower, buys Hope Booker at a bride auction. Unlike most brides, Hope can’t remember how or why she was on the bride-ship, and only knows that she doesn’t belong there. Unlike most buyers, Luke only buys Hope’s freedom out of pity and to save her life. Time eventually sees the thorny and kind-hearted Luke fall madly for the gentle, spirited Hope. Yet just when it seems their happiness is set to stay, their love is tested in a most arduous way.
What I loved about this story:
The setting is so rich. It was easy for me to dive right into the story again as I read it through my lunchtimes. Dodge’s exploration of the harsh frontier life, especially of the ‘brides’ and their fates was, at times, shocking. But, at the same time, it was these very details and observations which elevates this story, in my opinion.
Hope and Luke make a sweet couple who earn each other’s trust and love in believable ways.
And the supporting characters are all stars! From the Lees with their care of their friends to Mr Samson and his livery, from Adam and his clan to (my favourite) Wolf, the wolf-dog; they all bring a depth to the story and make Harcourt’s Mountain a place you’d want to visit.
The villains are varied, too, with predictable and satisfying motivations.
And Elaine Dodge does great research which makes for great scenes in her story – the mark of a good historical novel.
What I thought could be better:
There are some plot twists which seem a little too contrived. In particular, I thought Hope’s ex-fiance turning up in Silver Birch, of all places, was just a little bit of a stretch. Fortunately, this didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.
So what did I learn from this whole experience?
British Columbia, during the gold rush, was dangerous place for a lady. The Nlaka’pamux have/had a fishing festival, and the wealth of a mountain isn’t always in its minerals or timber.
Recommended to: lovers of: the movie Gunless, historical frontier stories, and Dr Quinn.