The Meeting Place (by Janette Oke and T Davis Bunn)

I’ve quite enjoyed books by Janette Oke, over the years. She writes historical fiction from a Christian perspective, and while some of her writing is perhaps a bit trite, she has a good sense of history and creates some believable characters. I’ve learned a great deal about American history from her novels. So when I saw that one of her co-written novels was available free for my Kindle, I downloaded it at once, although I knew nothing about her co-author T Davis Bunn.

‘The meeting place’ is the first in the five-book series known as ' The Song of Acadia’. It’s set in the 17th century, in a place I knew nothing about: it’s about French and English people, and it took me a while to realise that ‘Acadia’ was on the Canadian coast. Apparently England was at war with France, although there was an uneasy peace in the Acadian region.

The novel features two women: Catherine, who is English, married to a Captain in the army, and Louise, who is French and married to a young man called Henri. We meet these women before they are married, and although they don’t realise it until later, they are married on the same day. Louise comes from a large and loving family, while Catherine was brought up by a single father, in a far stricter way. Nonetheless, both women are lonely, and when - by chance - they meet in a meadow, something clicks and they start to become friends.

It was difficult for me to appreciate just how dangerous such a friendship would have been, but I liked the way that the story was told, from alternate points of view, showing their daily lives and adjustments to marriage; without a great deal of plot, at first, a good picture was painted of these two women whose hearts were so similar, yet their cultures and backgrounds were so very different. There’s some clear Christian content as they decide to read their Bibles together, and then with their husbands; but I didn’t find it too preachy, and it was mostly relevant to the story.

As the book progresses, the tension rises and there is some high drama towards the end which - to my disappointment - leaves the story unfinished, hanging in the air. I don’t like it when that happens; clearly this book was available free as a taster for the series, to tempt me to pay full price for the others. I’m not inclined to do that - yet I’m interested enough that I plan to look out for second-hand editions of the paperback versions both of this and its sequels.

If you like historical fiction with a fairly slow-moving plot, I’d definitely recommend this - but be prepared to buy at least one sequel too.

It's no longer free for the Kindle, but reasonable value still, and often found second-hand.

Review copyright 2015 Sue's Book Reviews

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