I wanted to get more done, but alas.
JAYNE’S ENDEAVOUR / Lauren Compton
⭐⭐ – ⭐⭐⭐
(Warning: This is a long review) I wanted to like this book. The prose isn’t terrible and since it’s a debut, it’ll only get better in the future. I think maybe the only thing I really liked was the story about their names.
However, other things kind of frustrated me to the point where I ended up not entirely enjoying the story, and I still didn’t feel entirely satisfied at the end. I understand it’s only the first book in a trilogy, but even then, it should be able to stand on its own with a satisfactory ending while also leaving you excited for the next book.
- The suspense didn’t seem consistent, and sometimes felt shoved aside in favor of the girls’ day-to-day activities. The climax was also a bit anticlimactic; I was expecting more and it fell flat to me. Part of that is probably bc I was expecting Jed’s head injury to happen one way and it didn’t. (Also, him having a family kinda came outta left field and then it was just dropped)
- The Cass reveal felt anticlimactic too. Though there was that moment in the barn, it wasn’t developed enough throughout the story to where the reveal had weight to it (I did think he was a cousin at one point though). It too felt shoved aside at times. I also didn’t understand his reasoning to keep his relation to them hidden; why not have him say it outright and have Jayne recognize him but then worry about him betraying them or have someone else worry about it but Jayne chooses to trust him? It would have added to the conflict and strengthened the story and propelled Jayne on even more of an arc.
- The villain reminded me of Snidely Whiplash at one point. I’m not even kidding. He sounded more like a caricature to me. And why did he want all that land? Was he planning to use it for something? I could’ve sworn that’s the usual reason someone swindles people out of their land…
- Jayne. Now, I’m the oldest just like Jayne. So her wanting to protect her sisters is something I totally get! But beyond that, I couldn’t fully connect with her, for multiple reasons:
A) She always got along with her sisters. That’s a wee bit unrealistic. In real life, no matter how much you get along, there will be times you butt heads with your siblings. I know this is fiction but fiction shouldn’t be watering down the realities of life.
Personally, I think Jayne’s character arc could’ve been stronger had there been conflict between her and her sisters. For example, it sometimes seemed like Yvonne was viewed as a child instead of the young woman she was becoming (She’s 14, not a baby). If Yvonne had been frustrated about it, that could’ve produced conflict that could’ve pushed Jayne to be a better sister by realizing she needs to accept her little sister is becoming a young woman. There were 1 or 2 instances where she noticed Yvonne was growing up, but without that conflict, it doesn’t have much of an impact on the reader.
B) I had a problem with this: “She felt glad that Jed could not read her thoughts, until she realised God knew and saw all things. Saddened by this knowledge, she slumped into her seat.”
The knowledge that God knows and sees all things shouldn’t be something that saddens us, but rather, it should be something that encourages us.
I have no problem with characters needing to be corrected on their theology, since it happens in real life. But Jayne is not corrected on this, and that disappointed me. Had Jayne realized she was wrong later on, or better yet, told Jed about it and he was the one to correct her, it would’ve portrayed growth in her character and strengthened her arc.
C) I didn’t like how Jayne let Mrs. Sterling (who read more like a caricature) walk over her like a doormat. Mrs. Sterling was a so-called Christian who was borderline verbally abusing her and her sisters, yet NO ONE, not even Jayne’s friends, rebuked her for this. I seem to recall the NT telling us to (lovingly) rebuke other believers who sin against us. But this never happens…is it being saved for the second book? If so, the idea should at least be planted in this book, otherwise the payoff will fall flat.
(Come to think of it, did Jayne and her sisters not have any friends their age? Why were there no friends helping them if they knew they were struggling? Was that just an American thing when farmers came together to help build barns and bring in the harvest?)
D) I found it odd that Jayne didn’t understand what Psalm 68:5 meant when it proclaimed God is a father to the fatherless. It created more questions for me: Had she never read that verse before Jed did? If she had, did she never go to her parents to ask what it meant? Why didn’t she ask Jed what it meant?
Perhaps if she knew what it meant, but was struggling with it, that could’ve strengthened her character and her arc as a whole. Christians do struggle with doubt on occasion; it’s part of how we grow in faith. (And I could be wrong, but weren’t people in the 19th century more Bible-literate?)
MINOR THINGS: I did feel distanced from the characters. I also found it kind of odd that Aiden didn’t already know how to hitch a horse to a cart? (I could be wrong, but didn’t boys in the 19th century usually know that by the time they were 13?) As far as the writing itself goes, though the prose is good, there were a couple of instances of ‘feel’ and ‘felt’ that could’ve been taken out. There were also a couple instances where it started sounding preachy, but it wasn’t overtly preachy.
I also caught a slight anachronism. As much as I love it and even though ‘Be Thou My Vision’ has been around since the 6th-8th centuries, it was not translated into English until 1905, and the English lyrics weren’t published until 1912.
I assume the author was doing it in English so we could recognize the hymn, but I think it would’ve lent to the historicity of the time if it had been written in its Irish lyrics, and a footnote had been included to explain why. Plus, it would’ve confirmed everyone in that room did know Irish.
In conclusion: Not only were the Lamberton and Cass things shoved to the back burner for a huge majority of the book, there was also no conflict between the sisters, which again, I found unrealistic because that isn’t how real life (or having siblings) works. None of the Christian characters seemed to struggle all that much with sin either, which is to me is even worse than having no sibling conflict, bc then it implies Christians have little to no hardship in their walk. Remember Romans 7:7-25?
I’m sure that’s not how the author meant it to come across, but it did come across that way to me. Whether it’s bc Jayne’s arc needed more fleshing out or bc it was a case of me not understanding what was being said bc of how it was being said, I don’t know.
When I read a book, I want it to make me think. I want it to give me something to ponder. I want it to actually have an impact. This book didn’t really do that for me. Though it’s only a debut, I do think there were things that could’ve been strengthened a little more, especially when it came to Jayne’s character and arc.
I can’t say I completely disliked it, but I can’t say I loved it either. So I guess my rating will be 2.5-3 stars. I’ll also still give the next book a try.
SOMETHING SWEET SOMEONE SWEET / Hannah Foster
I liked it but at the same time think it could’ve been a little longer. I don’t mind books with the last chapter being a time skip, but the ending was a bit jarring. Two minor quibbles would be the repeating of Jacob’s last name every other sentence and Evelyn.
I love the idea of a kid playing matchmaker for a widowed parent, but she didn’t really seem like an 11-yro to me? Speaking from personal experience, I know how some kids can sound and act mature for their age, but Evelyn sounded more like a 15-yro to me with the way she spoke.
All in all, a cute read.
HOMEWARD / Angela R. Watts
I don’t know how to rate this but go read it.
COURTSHIP IN CRISIS: THE CASE FOR TRADITIONAL DATING / Thomas Umstadd Jr.
I’m honestly not sure if I agree 100% with everything, but this is a thought-provoking book that gave me some nuggets to chew on. I’d recommend trying it out regardless of what you think on courting and dating.