|by C.J. Chase|
A poor shopkeeper's daughter, newly arrived in London and facing prejudice and discrimination because of her nationality.
A man of the upper classes unable to forgive himself.
Class differences, street urchins, scheming servants...
British settings have never been as popular in the Christian fiction market as North American locales, so you can understand why this devoted Anglophile jumped at the offer of a review copy of Nancy Herriman's debut novel The Irish Healer.
World-weary widower Dr. James Edmunds wants nothing more than to give up medicine and retire to the life of country squire. After the death of a child in her care--and a murder charge for which she was acquitted--Irish healer Rachel Dunne has already abandoned both her homeland and her profession in a bid to start a new life. But how long can these two people, so similarly disillusioned with life and God, deny their God-given callings as London comes under the grip of a deadly cholera epidemic?
From the back cover:
Accused of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal while vowing to never sit at another sickbed. She no longer trusts in her abilities—or God’s mercy. When a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, she feels compelled to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. James Edmunds, wearied by the deaths of too many patients, has his own doubts about God’s grace. Can they face their darkest fears? Or is it too late to learn that trust and love just might heal their hearts?
An historical romance set in 1832 London, The Irish healer explores the themes of failure, forgiveness, family, and God's faithfulness. But it's not all dark and serious and spiritual. Herriman adds touches of humor to humanize her characters. Here is my favorite line from the book:
"I accept your apology for wanting to kiss me, Dr. Edmunds," she replied at last ...
"I apologize for trying to kiss you, not for wanting to kiss you," he clarified.
A loyal housekeeper, a maid whose machinations would make Downton Abbey's nefarious Thomas proud, a jealous sister-in-law, and a lonely child round out the cast. But my favorite secondary character hands down is Rachel's cousin Claire, a young woman of deep faith who wants to end the estrangement between her side of the family and Rachel's.
"I do not care what you did in Carlow, Rachel. All that matters is that you are here now, and I can help you find a new future. God didn't provide me with this opportunity to heal old wounds simply to have me walk away."
In fact, it is with Claire's character I have my largest quibble with The Irish Healer. I simply wish she had appeared on more pages. I hope it's not too early to advocate that Herriman provide Claire with her own book so she can continue her quest to restore the family.
Anglophiles and Downton Abbey fans will find much to enjoy in The Irish Healer--and we don't even have to wait until next season.
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her next book, The Reluctant Earl, will be out in early 2013. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com