(I received a free copy of Across the Blue from the author to write an honest review. I was not financially compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.)
ACROSS THE BLUE SUMMARY
Isabella Grayson is the daughter of a self-made newspaper magnate. Her parents are pushing her to marry in order to increase her family’s social standing. But Isabella has no interest in the old money, aristocratic young men that her parents prefer. In fact, she has little interest in marriage at all. Bella has a secret dream of publishing as a journalist in one of her father’s papers. She has a particular interest in the brand new field of aviation.
James Drake is an orphan who has risen above his tragic beginnings. With the help of his mentor, James is designing an airplane he hopes will bring him enough prestige to start his own company. While test piloting his plane, he crash lands at the Grayson’s new country estate, where he meets Bella.
RELATED: The Edwardian Period (1901-1914)
Striking a deal with her parents to encourage marriage minded suitors, Bella is given permission to write a series of articles on a contest for pilots to be the first to cross the English Channel. She and James develop an appreciation for each other as Bella uses him as a source for her articles. In addition, she decides to help James track down the mystery of his birth parents. However, though their friendship is acceptable, any romantic interest between them is not. As their feelings for each other deepen, they must balance their personal relationship with their professional interests.
Across the Blue is set in the English Edwardian era, in the years prior to WWI. The author, Carrie Turansky, often sets her stories in the Edwardian era and it is clear that it is an era she has researched well and is familiar with. She paints a picture of the time without getting too bogged down in details that don’t enhance the story.
Fans of the first season of Downton Abbey will also be familiar with the country manor setting, fashion, manners, and societal expectations also portrayed in this particular novel.
There are a couple of storylines which run throughout Across the Blue. One is the pursuit of one’s dreams in the face of adversity. Both Bella and James face obstacles in a world which is still very much governed by social class and place.
Though some readers might argue that Bella is a feminist, I disagree. Bella is an independent thinker who has an inherited love for journalism. Her passion is very much personal and not at all political, something I believe is a true representation of this time period. Bella resists her parent’s efforts to mold her into a society bride, not for the sake of rebellion, but because it is not a true reflection of her inner character.
For James, his lack of parentage is a deterrent, not only in obtaining the money and connections he needs to be successful but also in qualifying him as an acceptable husband for Bella. For me, one of the more interesting aspects of Across the Blue is the aviation history woven into James and Bella’s journeys. Author Carrie Turansky does an incredible job making the technical and scientific field of early aviation both interesting and accessible to readers.
Another plotline found in Across the Blue is the search for the identity of James’ parents. This is used as a way of drawing Bella and James closer together while also adding a bit of mystery. The author’s pacing in dropping clues about his parentage kept me intrigued for a long time. It also serves to underline James’ and Bella’s relationship.
What initially piqued my interest in Across the Blue was the gorgeous cover. And as I read, I realized that the book actually begins on the cover. The visual images give very strong clues as to the story contained within, proving that sometimes you actually can judge a book by its’ cover.
I was also interested in the book because historical fiction is my favorite genre. So, of course, I was excited to read Across the Blue.
Not to mention, fans of Christian fiction will be thrilled with how the author weaves faith into almost every aspect of this story. Both Bella and James are people of strong faith and that informs both their character and the decisions they make.
One of my few complaints about Across the Blue is the lack of development in the secondary characters. Depending on the character, they either come across stereotypical or one dimensional at times. Another small issue I have is that both James and Bella seem almost too good to be true. Though they are not perfect, their lack of real character flaws or weaknesses makes them a bit hard to relate to at times.
Despite my disappointments with the character development, I enjoyed reading Across the Blue. It’s a book that is easy to read but does not sacrifice the historical details. I was surprised by how the focus on aviation completely captured my interest. Not to mention, I feel like I learned quite a bit while also being entertained. The romance between James and Bella developed quietly, respectfully and true to the time period. Fans of historical fiction should appreciate this book. I encourage you to check out the author’s Pinterest page for Across the Blue as it has images that have inspired the author and adds even more depth to the story.
The strong thread of faith in Across the Blue makes it a good story for the Hallmark channels. But because of the historical setting and topics, I would love to see it as a series on the BBC or ITV. If you take a look at the author’s Pinterest page, Hayley Atwell is the inspiration for Bella. I think this is a great choice. One of the inspirations for James Drake is Kent Moran. Having never seen this actor before, I will trust the author’s interpretation of her character.
Content Warning: This is safe to read for all ages with no objectionable content.
Are you a fan of the Edwardian Period? Have you read any of Carrie Turansky’s other novels?
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”