Friday, March 11, 2011
Book Review: Journey of Honor, a love story
Disowned, she came to America anyway. Attacked and left pregnant by a vicious mob, she still pressed on. Finally, in spite of being accused of theft by the vilest of her attackers, Giselle tries to remain as upbeat and uncomplaining as a prairie wildflower as she travels on to Zion.
Thoroughly disillusioned with the ugliness and cruelty of slavery in the South, Trace Grayson leaves his young medical career to go west, hoping to leave bigotry and hatred behind. He begins taking goods by teamster train to sell in the territories. However, this fourth time across, in July of 1848, he's stuck in St. Joseph, Missouri, waiting for enough wagons to join the train so that they can leave.
Knowing that if they don't start west soon, they'll be caught by snow in the mountains, Trace is thrilled when the final wagon signs on. Then, when the beautiful, young Dutch girl traveling with the last wagon is falsely accused of stealing and is detained, the whole trip is jeopardized. Thrown together by circumstance, Trace and Giselle team up to begin to figure out just how to make this epic journey across a continent a success.
With a deep sense of honor and an equally strong sense of humor, together they learn to deal with everything except the one trial that neither of them can overcome.
I liked the premise of this book. I thought Hawkes had a great story idea and her characters were lovable. I was pulling for the protagonists the whole trek west. It was a sweet, clean love story. I also enjoyed the historical aspect of the novel, as I have pioneer ancestors and like imagining their struggles on their journey to the mountain West.
However, it is the historical aspect of this novel that caused me some trouble, because there are some pretty major historical inaccuracies in it. The first I noticed were the words "racist" and "racism." I happen to be old enough to remember when those words first started to appear in the American vocabulary. It was the late 1970's or early 80's at the very earliest. Before that we used the word "prejudiced." I'm pretty sure nobody used the words "racist" or "racism" in the 17th century, though I admit I wasn't around then.
The other historically inaccurate matter is that of the LDS Church's treatment of blacks. The novel is set in 1848 and a major plot point is that blacks can't hold the priesthood or go through the temple. This is not accurate. In fact, blacks were afforded the same privileges as whites until 1878, when Brigham Young made changes to that policy. Hawkes really should have done better research on this matter before writing this novel.
That being said, it is still a fun story to read and I think readers will enjoy it as long as they're not too hung up on historical accuracy.