Friday, October 14, 2011

The Measure of Katie Calloway

The Measure of Katie Calloway is a Christian historical fiction novel written by Serena Miller.

Though the Civil War has ended the country, especially the South, is in turmoil economically. Katie's husband came home from the war to find his ancestral home in ruins and only his wife, her little brother, and a few livestock she kept safe waiting for him.

It wasn't long after she married him that Katie realized her mistake. Her husband is a cruel man, and it didn't take long for him to take out that cruelty on her. Continually. Violently.

Then one day Katie decides that she needs to protect herself and her little brother Ned, so they flee. They go north to woodsy Michigan, and she finds a tough job as a cook in a lumber camp. They money is good and she and Ned feel secluded and safe so far away from her husband, whom she's sure is trying to find her.

Plus, the camp owner Robert Foster is a kind man. He seems determined to make the experience of working in a freezing environment for seven months, surrounded by no one but men, as comfortable as he possibly can. Katie sees kindness in his eyes - kindness that she's unaccustomed to.

It's not long before her admiration for the man turns, slowly, into something more. But more is impossible. She's hiding too many things, too many secrets - if only the quietness of the snowy forest didn't force her to see everyday Robert's superiority to her husband... and all the things she can never have...

The Measure of Katie Calloway has lyrical, powerful, beautiful writing that brings elegant, soul-searing Katie to the forefront immediately - from the first line on. Katie and her sweet, young brother Ned's troubles are gripping, yet poetic. Because of the way Serena Miller wrote these heartbreaking characters it took me only seconds to feel fully invested - and care for them very much.

The setting and unique feel to the book, especially once we reach the North woods lumber camp, has a tone of realism and is a strong atmosphere for a strong book. I could smell the pine trees and feel the dirt under my feet - I was there with Katie. And the author had me on pins and needles, turning pages quickly, for things as small as Katie making an apple pie good enough to get her a job. It was incredible how Katie's spirit of determination and love overflowed into an absolutely lovely novel.

I was loving it quickly, as I'm sure you're seeing. You don't even have to be a fan of Christian historical fiction, in my opinion, to read The Measure of Katie Calloway. There's a fear so palpable it breaks your heart and a desperate hope for something better - it's emotional and understated. This is a character driven story that wraps you up and doesn't let you go!

And unlike other historical romances where I find a serious disconnect with the male lead - Robert swiftly made himself out to be a goodhearted and thoughtful man - and genuinely so, which is the struggle I often find in this genre. There was no such problem here! He became more and more attractive just based on his kindness, and never once came across as a wimp (again, a common issue I have with male characters in inspirational fiction).

The Measure of Katie Calloway is so soaringly touching and sincere I got chills. God's amazing grace is in the spotlight in this humble, sweepingly romantic novel. Cliche-free and stunning, Serena Miller created a story so authentic and redemptive that I came close to tears as it came to a close. A true winner.

This is one of the best historical romances I've read - definitely this year, and maybe ever. I am left with a newfound respect and awe for lumbering in 1867 and an earnest desire to read more from this breathlessly talented author!

I loved, loved, LOVED The Measure of Katie Calloway!!!

*Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

*I received a copy of The Measure of Katie Calloway from the Baker Publishing Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

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