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9 June 2014

This is the House (Kingsland 1)
Deborah Hill
North Road Publishing Corporation
Publication Date
02 April 2012 (2nd ed)
historical romance


Hannah Deems renounced her Quaker community when she married. As a result, there was no one to whom she could turn when, by the end of The War for Independence, she found herself widowed and destitute. Then Seth Adams came by; he offered to take her with him, back to his place on Cape Cod. An unknown entity, at least Adams was willing to help. Hannah should have known that going with him would be, in fact, a bargain that included her body. But she must somehow provide for her little daughter, and so she accepted her fate.
Thus it was that Molly became known as the illegitimate child of a reprobate, consigned to a future not unlike that of her mother. In order to free herself, she must ensnare a man of humble origin who will accept her, love her, and whose successful career will help her to surmount her mother's shame. That man is Elijah Merrick, a young and enterprising sea captain who understands that in wooing and winning her, he will have to defend her from his mother, fight his Cape town's determination to ostracize her, and force the Church of the Standing Order, Congregational, to accept her. In this he succeeds --
But he cannot defeat Molly's attraction to Isaac Warden

My review

The book and the story of one family reminds me a bit of Gone with the wind - set in Cape Cod in the early 1800's, just after the war of independence. 

The first chapter tells us almost the background story. Hannah Deems, a widow with a child, has not choice but to live with the unscrupulous Seth Adams. But Hannah manages to get her daughter, Molly, accepted as a serving girl for the rich Quaker household of Mrs Elizabeth Warden. Molly soon turns into a beauty and from an early age is well aware what her life may be as a servant and she quickly realises that a good marriage will change her fortunes. There comes Elijah Merrick who falls head over heals for her and marries her, even though his mother would never properly accept a servant as their equal and Molly has many struggles to overcome. Elijah will make his fortune, and Molly and him turn into what we would call today 'the new rich'. But there is one secret Molly didn't tell Elijah and that involves the son of the Warden family. 

Even though I've read historical novels from that time period before, never one which featured seafarers. The historic background is provided by the author at the beginning of some chapters - never longer than 1 page. And even though we learn a bit about the captain and their trade and associated difficulties, the story developed more around those 'left behind' on land - the wives, children, mothers, siblings. Apart from the history, what I found most interesting were the little things … how exactly did the seafarers make profit, how did people buy what they needed (yes, there was a shop), clothes had to be hand-made of course, the harsh winters could be survived with a  good stocked garden (turnips etc). 

I did like Molly a lot. She is headstrong, not afraid to do things she probably shouldn't be doing like arranging important things without asking her husband. She certainly likes the finer things in life and not afraid to do some scheming to achieve them. Her upbringing and early life with Elijah's family, who completely ignore her, initially leave her no choice but to make some crafty decisions. 

I know that back than, it was perfectly acceptable and common for husband to chastise their wives, but still, she gained a lot of empathy from me and Elijah lost a lot of respect from me when he decides to use the belt on her. Again, the time was like that, and at least he did it in private. Gosh, even as I write this, just put this into today's context - unimaginable! Elijah though, does indeed love Molly and will stand by her after this for all their lives. And Molly will make some unwise decisions as well. For a woman to submit to another man is a completely different matter than a seafarer who sees a working girl in the next port he calls at! Hm, the feminist in me? 

I would have loved it if the children would have maybe played a bit of a bigger role, especially Sarah, the eldest. But this would have maybe made the book to complex. I know Part 2 of Kingsland tells the story of Kingsley Merrick who is Molly's and Elijah's grandson and I'm looking forward to see how it continues in Cape Cod.

I received this book from the author in return for an honest review (eBook)