Everything you want in Historical Fiction
Amy Turner’s debut novel Voyage of the Pleiades is everything a person could want in a historical fiction book: an exotic setting, a captivating plot, and a heartfelt romance. Set in the late 1800s, this Victorian era novel was motivated by Amy’s desire to showcase the work of women naturalists of the time as well as locations that are not widely written about in modern historical fiction. The heroine, Linnea Wren, was raised as a child by her uncle after the death of her parents. Their ocean travels as he led expeditions and studied the world as a botanist instilled in her a desire and experience that carried into her adult life. A tragic shipwreck while leading her own expedition almost derailed this passion but when the opportunity arose for Linnea to head a trip to South America and study the plant and animal life on the Chilean island of Chiloe’, she realized her fervor for discovery was still there under her fears. But a murderer on the loose may destroy everything she hopes to accomplish.
I absolutely loved Voyage of the Pleiades for so many reasons. Like I mentioned earlier it is a story with a rich setting which includes Victorian England, life aboard an ocean sailing steamship, and the exotic island of Chiloe’ off the coast of Chile. Amy’s descriptions are rich and vivid and they allow you to easily experience another time and place. The plot of the story is also wonderful with multi-layered subplots that are intriguing in their own right but skillfully woven together in a way that keeps the reader engaged page after page. I was fascinated by Linnea’s profession as a botanist and expedition leader in a male dominated society and how she navigated those issues to accomplish her goals. Intertwined in the historically relevant story is a murder mystery that adds the perfect amount of suspense and tension to the book. I also can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Amy’s inclusion of words and manner of speaking that were common for that period but rarely used today. It made the story feel even more authentic and real while providing great entertainment with its witty and humorous exchanges.
“Indeed, my dear. You were poised and professional tonight. Several people extolled your attributes,”
“Do you mean these?” I said gesturing to my chest. We both dissolved into laughter. “It’s time to stable these fillies.” I said rising from the chair. I picked up my slippers from the floor and kissed Hugh’s cheek.
“Thank you, Hugh, for always believing.”
“You are welcome my dear, sleep well, departure time approaches.”
I gave a lively jig of joy and took myself, and the rest of my whiskey off to my cottage.
But, my favorite part of the Voyage of the Pleiades was the relationship between between Linnea and Matias and how it developed into a great romance while also inspiring personal growth in them both. Their connections intellectually, emotionally, and physically provide for a palpable experience for the reader who loves a good relationship build that sparks and smolders but delivers the heat with exactly the right amount of anticipation. Their physical attraction is greatly enhanced by their academic connection and budding friendship. Even though Linnea is Matias’ boss on the trip, they look at each other and respect each other as equals on so many levels. It is the perfect foundation for a relationship with great potential.
Voyage of the Pleiades wraps up nicely with enough plot and relationship resolution to leave me feeling very contented and satisfied but includes new discoveries that definitely make me super excited for the next book to come out spring of next year. Amy has set the bar high with her inaugural novel but with her talent as a writer and researcher of historical fiction I am super excited to see what she will have for us next!
Tanya’s love for books has been a lifelong passion that she likes sharing with others. Reading is also the thing that relaxes her after a day of juggling the many responsibilities that come with being being wife to an amazing man, mother to four great kids spread around the world, business manager, and farm hand on their place in southwest Missouri; home to Akaushi cattle and a menagerie of pygmy goats, horses, chickens, dogs and cats.