The Honorable Sophia Grafton is the spoiled only child of the Viscount Grafton. Her father wanted to ensure that the Grafton legacy would go on and focuses on Sophia being presented at court and having a season to secure a husband who will not only take the Grafton name, but live on the family estate with Sophia. Unfortunately, Viscount Grafton was granted a large estate in Virginia. Unfortunate as he has mortgaged the family estate to not only keep up their lifestyle but to make the Virginia land profitable. This has included building a home, purchasing slaves, and planting the first tobacco crop. After Viscount Grafton’s untimely death, Sophia discovers that all she has left is the property in Virginia and she is determined to make it profitable. Traveling to Virginia with a lady’s companion, Sophia discovers that it will take courage and hard work to tame her estate. Kidnapping a French Spy that she knew from her youth, Henri, Sophia heads west. Will Sophia find love in the wilderness? Will she be able to tame her estate?
When I first started reading The Valley, I literally couldn’t put it down. I was fascinated by Sophia’s story and her journey from a spoiled brat to a sophisticated young woman. I also loved her trip to Virginia and her daring trek into the wilderness to find her estate. I love pioneer tales and loved the adventure of the motley crew that headed west with Sophia. It was an exciting adventure story.
Then I could put the book down and had a hard time focusing on the second half of the book. The story focused away from Sophia and fixated on new characters that kept moving to the community. The very last section of the book skipped far ahead in the future to descendants of the main characters. I wanted to know what had happened to the main characters. I wanted to see the love story develop between Henri and Sophia over time similar to Claire and Jamie in Outlander. Instead they were less and less in the novel and it seemed that it should have been called the Valley where everyone’s dreams come to die.
I also wasn’t sure about the reality of the community they build in the wilderness with freed escaped slaves, Native Americans, and white Europeans all living together and intermarrying. It would be a wonderful community and the best of America, but is that realistic for the times? I’ve never read about a community like this before. I would have loved an Afterword that could have explained the research used and any such similar communities happening in American history.
Overall, The Valley starts strong as a tale of a young sophisticated woman growing up and discovering adventure in 18th century Virginia, but meanders and loses focus as too many characters are added in the second half of the novel.
Have you ever read a book that changed course half way through? Did you like it or not?
What is your favorite frontier adventure novel?
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