Hello! I’m participating in a blog tour today for an AMAZING Christian historical fiction book: Beyond Her Calling by Kellyn Roth. I’m very excited about this one, so let’s jump right into it!
Synopsis: At twenty, Ivy Knight feels as if she hasn’t accomplished anything of worth. Her life stretches on before her, empty and pointless. Though her faith in God and her mental abilities have been strengthened, she still doubts herself. Does God have a purpose for a socially awkward, often confused and frightened young woman?
Jordy McAllen has just returned to Scotland after his education in London. Though he has accomplished a lot for a farm lad such as himself, he fears that what everyone has always said about him may be true: he won’t really make a good doctor. Determined to prove himself, Jordy snatches up the opportunity to become the doctor in the village of Keefmore near his parents’ farm.
Helping Jordy with his work at Keefmore seems like the perfect opportunity for Ivy. Still, she doubts herself. Is there a purpose to Ivy’s life?
As mentioned in my last WWW Wednesday post, Beyond Her Calling is book 4 in The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy series…but it is the first of the series that I have read. I intended to mention here that I usually do not read series out of order, but upon some reflection I realized that I actually have done this quite a bit, just not recently. Regardless, I am very glad that when I saw the opportunity for this blog tour, I jumped at it even though I have yet to read the previous books. That said, I am sure that there is a lot of background that I am missing. Beyond Her Calling stands firmly on its own, but there are references which I am sure would make more sense if I knew the full context.
The story follows Ivy Knight, a twenty-year-old from Kent, England with a history of overwhelming anxiety and social awkwardness. Honestly, I do not think that I have ever loved the way a character is written as much as I do Ivy. She is so unique, innocent, and thoughtful; she tries extremely hard at everything she does, thinks the best of everyone, and believes in God wholeheartedly. A lot of the adjectives I would use to describe Ivy also describe how I feel about the book as a whole: it is an incredibly sweet story, gentle but reaching deep and applying the Gospel to uncomfortable situations. It is truly refreshing to read a story so saturated with the reality and goodness of the Gospel that passages about the Bible or theology just flow. There are frequent mentions of both, and while there are times when a character (usually Ivy) tries to explain or convince another of their truth, there is no argumentation or complicated philosophy. Truth is simply stated as fact in a loving and sincere manner.
This is no head-in-the-sand prosperity gospel, either. The author tackles difficult and uncommon topics, especially mental health, in a cautious but confident manner. Each character is beautifully written, giving voice to people and situations that often go unnoticed.
There is so much to love about this book. Ivy struggles to find direction for her life and contemplates why some people experience a grand ‘calling’ while others just live life, and ultimately finds satisfaction in her faith and her friends. The one minor aspect I did have trouble with is that it can seem that Ivy finds her “calling” in a romance, which concerns me. Initially, Ivy relates the idea of a calling to something spiritual, but later the term comes to mean something more mundane, which is fine but worth noting. My concern is that some readers, especially younger girls, might read this and think that in order to find a reason for their life they need to find a husband, which is not true. Nothing in this book blatantly says that there is more value in being married than being single, and I don’t honestly think that is at all the point the author is trying to get across, but I don’t think it would be hard for someone to read it between the lines. If there are future books to this series, I would love to hear more about some of the characters who remain single, and see how they deal with finding their value and purpose in life.
Back to the innumerable positives: the setting is incredible. I was not sure what to expect from 1880s England and Scotland, and I am definitely impressed! There are enough nuanced details given to create atmosphere, but no unnecessary rambles or overbearing descriptive sections. Seeing a glossary of Scottish expressions in the front took me by surprise, but ended up being helpful. Although I don’t have much experience with Scottish brogue, I found it very well-written. Additionally, I am impressed by the author’s ability to maintain different dialects and levels of accents based on the characters background.
The romance aspect is also very well written and sweet. In fact, most of the relationships are strong, positive models. It is comforting to read about close families, friends who stand by each other no matter what, and innocent young love. The atmosphere emanates feelings of safety, comfort, and purity, making it possibly the ultimate feel-good story. That is not to say that everything goes perfectly for the characters; there would be no story if that were the case. Instead, they demonstrate positive (though not perfect – thank goodness!) responses to difficult situations, and they do so while maintaining relationships which it might be easier to walk away from. True love is more than the fleeting passion or infatuation shown in so many books, and this is a wonderful example of how it ought to act: persevering, loyal, and supportive.
Other aspects I appreciate from Beyond Her Calling include the pacing, lovely writing style, and the fact that Ivy plays the piano. Also, there are minor themes of conquering your fears, prayer, and responsibility, which add more than just background to the plot.
I am so thankful to have read Beyond Her Calling and take part in this blog tour. I highly encourage anyone to read it, especially if you enjoy Christian romance, historical fiction, or any sort of sweet story. I truly hope that there are more books in the series, as I do have a few unanswered questions which I think (hope?) are intentional and foreshadowing. I am definitely going to go back and read the previous books in the series!
Because this is part of a blog tour, I have extra goodies for y’all today! There is a Facebook Party going on with new content every day, a giveaway where you can win a signed copy of Beyond Her Calling (closes 10/25/18), and lots more fun posts! Some of the other bloggers are doing character interviews, which I find especially interesting. The ones I have seen posted so far have been so good and fun! You can find the whole schedule here (you’ll have to scroll down a little on the page). Today’s other stops on the blog tour are Kellyn Roth’s own blog and Germaine Han at The Writing Mafia.
Until the next chapter,
Header image courtesy of Kellyn Roth.