Today I have a review of Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard, available today from Atria Books.
A big thank you to Atria for the complimentary copy!
Jan Brunt has moved to Great Britain from the Netherlands in the mid 1600s. He is assigned to work on a marshy wetland, the Great Leve, to develop the area. Jan is a man of order and schedules, and he is knocked out of sorts when he meets Eliza who throws a wrench in all his order.
Jan wants Eliza to better her situation, but in helping her, she then turns on him and corrupts his work. After that, Jan flees to the American colonies.
There, he is met with an additional need for his skills as an engineer and is asked to develop more land. All comes to a halt for Jan when he finds out Eliza is now in the New World, too, and she brings with her all the knowledge Jan taught her. She seeks freedom above all else.
Wow, Call Upon the Water is quite the adventure story. I loved the brave escapades the characters took to the New World. I was fascinated with all I learned about the development of inhospitable lands. The author brought time and place to the forefront in well-done fashion. Jan and Eliza’s characters were so easy to get to know. I wanted the best for each of them.
Overall, Call Upon the Water is a character-driven, solid historical with an alluring and exciting backdrop. I soaked up all I learned and am looking forward to what Tillyard brings us next!
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
Spanning several decades in seventeenth century Great Britain and America, this “impressive piece of work, rich in historical detail and human insight” (The Sunday Times) is an unforgettable love story exploring the power of nature versus man and man versus woman.
I am an engineer and a measured man of the world. I prefer to weigh everything in the balance, to calculate and to plan. Yet my own heart is going faster than I can now count.
In 1649, Jan Brunt arrives in Great Britain from the Netherlands to work on draining and developing an expanse of marshy wetlands known as the Great Level. It is here in this wild country that he meets Eliza, a local woman whose love overturns his ordered vision. Determined to help her strive beyond her situation, Jan is heedless of her devotion to her home and way of life. When she uses the education Jan has given her to sabotage his work, Eliza is brutally punished, and Jan flees to the New World.
In the American colonies, profiteers on Manatus Eyland are hungry for viable land to develop, and Jan’s skills as an engineer are highly prized. His prosperous new life is rattled, however, on a spring morning when a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the Great Level, and confront all that was lost there. Eliza has made it to the New World and is once again using the education Jan gave her to bend the landscape—this time to find her own place of freedom.
A “story of passion, possession, and a painful education in love” (Sarah Dunant, author of In the Name of the Family), The Great Level is an adventure, an unusual and intelligent love story, and a powerful comment on the relationship between humans and the environment. “Richly involving…rousing and heroic” (The Guardian), this unforgettable historical novel is perfect for fans of Hilary Mantel, Geraldine Brooks, and Philippa Gregory.