Indentured servant Fanny Beck has been forced to sing for riverboat passengers since she was a girl. All she wants is to live a quiet, humble life with her family as soon as her seven-year contract is over. So when she discovers that the captain has no intention of releasing her, she seizes a sudden opportunity to escape—an impulse that leads Fanny to a group of enslaved people who are on their own dangerous quest for liberty. . . .
Widower Walter Kuhn is overwhelmed by his responsibilities to his farm and young daughter, and now his mail-order bride hasn’t arrived. Could a beautiful stranger seeking work be the answer to his prayers? . . .
After the star performer of the River Peacock is presumed drowned, Sloan Kirkpatrick, the riverboat’s captain, sets off to find her replacement. However, his journey will bring him face to face with his own past—and a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be free. . . .
Uplifting, inspiring, and grounded in biblical truth, Freedom’s Song is a story for every reader who has longed for physical, emotional, or spiritual delivery.
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.
What does it mean to be free?
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s 57th book looks to answer the question through the experiences of different people in the Midwest United States in the run up to the American Civil War. In Freedom’s Song, readers get the various perspectives of those experiences as they weave together to form the book’s narrative.
While this is predominantly Fanny’s story, she isn’t the only character to experience a journey, however, and this is where the book falters. Her tale is told from start to finish, but what of the fugitive slaves she met when she first escaped the River Peacock? How does their story end? Do they find freedom? And what of Sloan? Where did he go? Did he find a replacement? Did he return to the River Peacock? Or did he go somewhere else? Readers get the perspectives of these people for only as long as Fanny remains in their lives. It’s as though they no longer exist after they go their separate ways.
Speaking of experiences, it’s one of mine that additionally hindered my full enjoyment of this novel. When Fanny was introduced in the first chapter, I thought she was originally from Ireland. When she spoke, I “heard” her with an Irish accent. I was surprised to read that she was from Inverness, Scotland. At times, I tried to imagine her speaking with my aunt’s Scottish accent, but all I could hear was my friend’s Irish one. It wasn’t until the final pages that I finally heard her Scottish “voice.” The issue was muddied further when she later spoke of her father having tended sheep in Ireland. I’m hoping this confusion is due to me reading an Uncorrected Proof made available from the publisher and all is made clear in the final published version.
Another issue I had was that Fanny’s escape seemed all too easy. I thought she only appeared nervous when traveling with the slaves, and she was frightened for them and not for herself. She never thought that anyone might be after her, although the reader discovers this to be the case. And when the climax came, I couldn’t “feel” the danger.
But maybe I’m being too harsh. After all, this is romance fiction and perhaps we shouldn’t think too hard about the circumstances and context when all we should expect is the Happily Ever After. But the HEA has never been the be all and end all for me. As I said to someone recently “history is my jam,” therefore I expect certain things when I read an historical novel. Given that the book was set in 1860, in a geographical area where the people were both for and against slavery, I wanted to read more about the slaves’ experiences as they sought freedom via the Underground Railroad. I wanted to know if they got to a location where they were finally free. And the accent element is probably wholly on me when I know people from both Inverness and Ireland and not every reader will be in the same situation.
So, let me look at Freedom’s Song at face value. I’ve not read a plot like this elsewhere. The HEA is a given. The book is easy enough to read. The characters are likeable, even Sloan. If you’re looking for clean fiction with plenty of romance, little violence, and swathes of Christian teaching, Freedom’s Song is a good choice for you.
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Publication Date: 19 October 2021
Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed, bestselling author with more than 1.5 million books in print in seven different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades, including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim and her retired military husband, Don, live in central Kansas, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren.
Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Website https://kimvogelsawyer.com