Monday, January 18, 2016

Undaunted Hope

I had the privilege of reviewing Undaunted Hope, Jody Hedlund's third book in her Beacons of Hope Series. This is a series of three very well written books about lighthouses and the keepers who provide the light that leads the way on the often perilous Great Lakes in Michigan.

Tessa Taylor arrived in town for her position as the new school teacher only to be told by Mr. Updegraff that the job was for men only.  Not easily dismissed, she retrieved her trunks from the pier and narrowly escaped the advances of rowdy crew members, only to nearly drown when her would be rescuer tries to maneuver the voluminous skirts and petticoats!  It is after Alex Bjorkland's gallant rescue that the two come face to face with one Percival Updegraff.  Percival is the other Mr. Updegraff, the Cole Mine Clerk and her new boss. He hasn't a bit of trouble with her being a woman teacher and goes so far as to offer her room and board at his home. Alex quickly provides another option for Tessa with the Rawlings family. An option that offers protection from the single men who greatly outnumber the women of Eagle Harbor.

Tessa quickly became a much beloved teacher. She was born to teach and was determined to make a difference to the miners and their families.  She offered evening classes for the adults who lacked basic education.  It became evident though, that Mr. Updegraff ruled the town with the same iron fist as he ruled the mine. He set no store on miners bettering themselves with an education, just as he brooked no refusal by Tessa from his advances. He chipped away at everything that mattered to her.  It took her strong will to withstand his cruel punishments not only to her but everyone that has become dear to her.

The story tells of our immigrant forefathers who worked in industries with company houses and the company stores. It must have sounded so appealing to be provided for by the company.  The reality was that many of those homes were substandard and the stores offered company credit for over-priced goods. It was hard for the employees to get ahead and if they lost their job they also lost their home. While that is not the case with all of these situations, our story is indeed about just such a place.  Intertwined with the story of the people who mined in Eagle Harbor is the story of two brothers who keep the light on for the ships on Lake Superior.  It is well worth your time and entertainment to read this book. 

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