Monday, February 1, 2021

SHADOWS OF THE WHITE CITY by Jocelyn Green, Reviewed by Paula and Rebecca #ReleaseDayFeb2

"You mean she's missing?"

Imagine the panic. The absolute helplessness. Sylvie Townsend's beautiful seventeen year old daughter Rose has not arrived at her intended destination. Frantic, Sylvie begins a search among any and all people whom Rose might have made contact with after their terse conversation earlier in the day. The Chicago World's Fair Grounds are nothing short of magnificent, but they are also immense and considered dangerous for a young impressionable young woman, who has apparently decided to wander about unchaperoned.

When Sylvie questions him about Rose's whereabouts, Kristof Bartok can only tell her what he knows. Rose had indeed arrived for her scheduled violin lesson, but was clearly distracted and had not indicated her plans to him for the remainder of the day. Apparently, according to Sylvie, Rose had been troubled about Sylvie's constant oversight, thinking herself old enough to be trusted and besides; Sylvie was not even her biological mother, and so she had no right to begrudge Rose's desire to find out more about her Polish roots while so many international visitors were at the fair. But to disappear? That wasn't like Rose, either. Quite honestly, Kristof was worried that some of his own family issues could be at play, and he could never forgive himself if Rose's life was in danger. Sylvie was far too precious to him to compromise her or Rose's safety.

Marvel alongside the author over the grandeur of Chicago's historic fair grounds, observe how she expertly uses the influx of people from all over the world to spellbind a confused young woman's desire to break free of what she has always known, in order to naively grasp what she doesn't. In the meantime, Sylvie and Kristof become students of faith, for as Kristof gently reminds Sylvie, "The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is faith". Will a near tragedy be what it takes to bind their hearts together into a symphony of everlasting love? May it be so.

"Just because we are still doesn't mean that God is."
*I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. I also purchased a copy. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

From the opulence that is The White City, to the intrigue that lurks beneath the surface, this novel is a sure winner.

Having gone to Chicago for many field trips as a child, I was glad I was able to visit some of the former sites of the World’s Fair. Ms. Green has done extensive research and has brought this era to life in the characters of Sylvie, her sister Meg, Rose, her adopted daughter and Kristof. I especially liked the references to A Tale Of Two Cities and Mansfield Park and how they were used to illustrate a point.

Sylvie experienced The Great Fire in book one of Windy City Saga. Here we see her years later as a book store owner and part time tour guide at the Fair. This was an exciting story with many turns that I did not anticipate. It was flawlessly executed. The characters were realistic, as were their spiritual struggles. “Where we are weak, God is strong. He can take our smallest offerings and make them a feast.”

Kristof was a very patient, godly hero who was a true friend. He also struggled in his relationship with his brother Gregor. “Doing the right thing often means doing the hard thing. That takes courage. And faith to believe...”

The bulk of the story centers on Sylvie and Rose as they search for her biological family and the ensuing complications.

This was a complex, enthralling and moving story. I can’t wait for book three. 5 stars, and a strong faith thread. 
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 

BackCover Blurb:
The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose's violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

Bethany House Fiction, February 2021
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