The Greshem Chronicles Book Review
Upon choosing The Jewel of Greshem Green by Lawana Blackwell, I did not actually realize it was the last installment of a series until I had completed reading the book. To me, that was a good thing, because there have been many a series where the story is not complete without knowing the background from the previous books. However, this plot was so compelling that it was very enjoyable as a complete storyline in itself.
Set in the 1880s, the book starts off with the account of Jewell Libby from Birmingham, England then switches to the Vicar Andrew Phelps and Julia Phelps and their family. The author paints a vivid picture of what poverty, working class life, and city living were like in that era, along with the contrast of village life coupled with the naivety of medical practices at that time. But what appears to be a sort of riches-to-rags story takes another turn when Jewell's desires to flee a man with evil intentions keeps landing her into further misfortune until she eventually crosses paths with the Phelps family and becomes the catalyst for change in their lives. The book is full of lively characters who the author gives you reason to love or hate. By the end of the tale, the reader is left with a sense of completion, seeing marriages strengthened, new love blossomed, health restored, and evil overturned. But there were also many unexpected surprises in the mysteries surrounding a will, a nephew's intentions, and whether or not Aleda Hollis will ever have the courage to reach her ultimate goal.
Although The Jewel of Greshem starts off somewhat slow, it eventually picks up to become a page-turner. What is most refreshing about this book is the way it reaches out to a variety of ages, chronicling the many thoughts most commonly felt in each walk of life. You cannot help but empathize with what each character experiences, knowing that you can relate to them on some level. There is that unspoken theme of God's love dominating over all, to where ultimately everything works out according to "the greater plan."
I heartily recommend this book for people who love historical Christian fiction, romance, and a good dose of intrigue. The previous books include: The Widow of Larkspur Inn, The Courtship of the Vicar's Daughter, and The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark. Overall, Ms. Blackwell does a fantastic job of weaving together a series that is well thought out, convincing you to step back in time and be part of the story.