Louis Lestarjette, a Frenchman, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1772 without purpose or plans. He encounters a society on the brink of revolution and is forced to make decisions that include finding meaning and direction in his carefree life. Who can he trust in his endeavors to prosper? Will he be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence? When decisive events confront him, will he stay or leave? Running from God and commitment is a constant option.
Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of a prominent British citizen, believes God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with making difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, her role in the political battle is challenged. Can she trust her heart in volatile situations?
Set in pre-Revolution Charles Town, Hold Me Close takes the reader into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.
SERIES: Revolutionary Faith #1
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Westbow Press
RELEASE DATE: December 28, 2015
“God is holding us close no matter what the outside world looks like.”
Colonial and Revolutionary-era America has long been one of my favorite time periods to read in fiction. The selection isn’t as heavily populated though as, say, Civil War era fiction or novels set during WW2. I’m okay with that, typically, as both of those time periods are also favorites of mine… but when I do find a Revolutionary-era novel, it goes to the top of my TBR pile! Particularly one which also falls in the Christian fiction genre.
Hold Me Close by Marguerite Martin Gray is one such novel. Set in the pre-Revolution era of Charles Town (what we now know as Charleston, South Carolina), Hold Me Close captures the faith, the mood, the unrest, the divisions, the emotion, and the intrigue behind this pivotal period in American history. And does so from the perspective of two characters who actually lived and breathed in Charles Town in the 1770s: Louis Lestarjette and Elizabeth Burnham Elliott. To me, that makes the story all the more compelling.
Another thing I find interesting about Hold Me Close is Gray’s portrayal of the interpersonal conflict going on during the Revolution. We tend to associate “brother against brother”, or family member against family member, with the War Between the States, but this glimpse into some of the key players in Charles Town’s pre-Revolution sentiments showed that these difficult dynamics were in play long before America even had states to war between. When father and son are staunch Loyalists but daughter fully supports the Daughters of Liberty and falls in love with a supporter of the Sons of Liberty, emotions and tensions run high. And while no gunfire has yet been heard, the battle is looming and I am anticipating this “brother against sister” and “father against daughter” tension to get much worse – and perhaps much more tragic – before it gets better.
Bottom Line: A current of faith runs alongside the historical framework of Hold Me Close, Louis Lestarjette’s journey to a personal relationship with Jesus highlighted as the most important of all the decisions he faces. And as the decision that provides the needed clarity for everything Louis is debating in his heart and head. His friendship with Elizabeth progresses sweetly, and watching both of them mature into their own beliefs – and then gravitate even more toward each other – over the course of the novel added to the enjoyment of their relationship for me. While the historical aspect did often cross over from ‘story’ to ‘lecture’, it is clear that Ms. Gray has done meticulous research and has taken great care in bringing it to life. I found the details fascinating though, which more than made up for occasionally feeling as though I had set aside the fictional novel and picked up a nonfiction text. The characters are intriguing, the time period especially so, and readers will be clamoring for the next installment in this series when they reach the final scene of Hold Me Close.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Review: 4 stars / Appealed to the history buff in me!
Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she received a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband and Cleo, her cat, in Abilene, Texas.