Today I’m here with the first review of the year, and it’s about A Sparrow Alone – a historical novel set in 19th-century Colorado. While I am very well acquainted with 19th-century British literature (I specified in it during my literature studies), I haven’t read much about the era in America yet, so I was very excited about that! Also, I fell in love with the cover right from the start. Let me tell you what I thought about the book in the end. But first, what’s it about?
1890’s Colorado. Desperate following her mother’s sudden death, thirteen-year-old Hannah Owens apprentices as domestic help with a wealthy doctor’s family in Colorado Springs. When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress Pearl DeVere’s brothel, however, Hannah is thrown into a vortex of gold mining bonanzas and busts, rampant prostitution, and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the era. Two of Cripple Creek’s most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of The Old Homestead, come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, the first of two historical fiction novels by debut author Mim Eichmann — a tribute to the women who set the stage for women’s rights.
I love historical fiction but it has been a while since I read one. Going into the story, my mood was a bit dampened immediately because the book starts off with the death of Hannah’s mother. Or, well, she is already dead, so rather the family’s dealing with her death. The way the body is moved around and the mother of the family is thought about made me a bit sad, to be honest. But then again I know it was a different time, and different people might feel different things.
However, the rest of the book has some pretty heavy subjects, too. We read of rape; there is mysogyny and racism. If you are looking for a light, happy read, you might want to look for something else. That is not to say it is a bad book, though. The historical aspects come across as very well researched, and it certainly feels like an enriching historical novel. Reading the story of Hannah growing up and leading her life despite the many hardships she has to face made me realise how hard life ‘back then’ was, especially for women. It certainly made me appreciate the life we are able to lead today.
On the other hand, the book also offers some harder to read passages which also included some very wordy, information-heavy scenes that made it hard to stay focused at times. Sometimes, I ended up feeling torn between these conflicting emotions – between enjoying the feeling of learning something while also struggling to get through some parts of the book.
I liked that Hannah is going through a rite of passage, as coming-of-age stories are some of my absolute favourites, and that kept me going. The journey she goes on throughout her life is not an easy one, and yet she doesn’t let it break her. She comes out stronger the other end – something that is very admirable, in my opinion. However, I also have to say that I didn’t really like her character that much. Oftentimes, she seems to just go through things, accepting more or less without reacting what life has to offer her. That made it hard to see her as a likeable character, but it was interesting and compelling to follow her life story nonetheless!
I recommend A Sparrow Alone to lovers of raw and – sometimes brutally – honest historical novels who aren’t looking for a necessarily light and fluffy read. 3.5 stars from me for this interesting novel!
Thank you to Dave from TheWriteReads and the author for letting me take part in this blog tour, and for my review ecopy that I received in exchange for my honest review.
Below you will find more info on the author!
Thank you all so much for reading!
Mim Eichmann has found that her creative journey has taken her down many exciting, interwoven pathways. For well over two decades she was known primarily in the Chicago area as the artistic director and choreographer of Midwest Ballet Theatre and director of its home, Midwest Ballet Academy, bringing full-length professional ballet performances to thousands of dance lovers every year and was the recipient of many arts’ programming grants.
A desire to become involved again in the folk music world brought about the creation of her acoustic quartet Trillium, now in its 15th year, a folk band well known for its eclectic repertoire performing throughout the Midwest that has also released four cds. She’s also written the lyrics and music for two award-winning original children’s cds, “Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?” and “Wander Down Beyond the Rainbow” and occasionally schedules concerts of her children’s music and movement programs.
Always captivated by the writings, diaries and journals of late 19th century women, as well as that era’s economic, social and political upheavals, Ms. Eichmann has now put pen to paper and the historical fiction novel she has been passionately researching, its rich synopsis gradually evolving over many years, has finally become a reality. We hope you’ll enjoy “A Sparrow Alone” and its sequel, “Muskrat Ramble.”