One of the best things about fiction books is that you really never know what you will find between the covers until you open the book and start. When I started The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton I felt I would get a good story as I really enjoyed her first book Burning Sky, but other than that I was unsure. After having read this book, I can safely say I am really glad I did not live during that time of America’s history. Too much work, too much danger and not enough running water.
Tamsen lives with her mother and step-father. Hezekiah Parrish is not anything like what she remembers her father being like. Her step-father is cruel and abusive and is looking for a husband for Tamsen who has a large bankroll. He is not worried about anything else. So Ambrose Kincaid looks like the perfect fit. He is a land owner with several other business dealings and will pay a very large dowry. On the outset he seems like a very nice gentleman, until Tamsen witnesses him interacting with one of his slaves. Then she knows she cannot live with a man like him, and she flees.
Jesse Bird helps her to run away from her step-father at a great risk to himself, because he is then accused of kidnapping and even murder. As Tamsen and Jesse flee farther and farther into the wilderness, she is not sure she will survive out here, but knows she cannot return to her step-father’s household.
The rest will give away plot-line and I don’t want to do that. It is always interesting to step between the pages into a past that you know little about. What was the norm for the people who inhabited that time in history is so foreign to me. Plucking geese and saving the feathers and down for future use, cooking over the fire in the fireplace, houses with few or no windows, goodness I could go on and on, but not one of those things made me want to live at that time in history. You also have the danger of not only Natives in the area who are not welcoming to the new settlers, but also wild animals and criminals that work their way west to avoid the law. So living in colonial America wasn't an easy task and was not for the faint of heart.
With that in mind, Lori actually writes a story that makes you want to live at that time. The beautiful unspoiled landscapes, the neighbors who help each other – no questions asked, and a freedom to take care of things. Lori has a gift for writing that makes you settle right into the story, walking alongside her characters and wishing they would stay a bit longer than the few pages that they have to share their story with you. I really enjoyed this book because of that, the feeling that I wanted to move in next door and be part of the neighborhood. Well if I could have running water anyway.