Left suddenly penniless, the Honorable Sophia Grafton, a viscount’s orphaned daughter, sails to the New World to claim the only property left to her name: a tobacco plantation in the remote wilds of colonial Virginia. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a handsome young French spy—at gunpoint— she gathers an unlikely group of escaped slaves and indentured servants, each seeking their own safe haven in the untamed New World.
What follows will test her courage and that of her companions as they struggle to survive a journey deep into a hostile wilderness and eventually forge a community of homesteads and deep bonds that will unite them for generations.
The first installment in an epic historical trilogy by Helen Bryan, the bestselling author of War Brides and The Sisterhood, The Valley is a sweeping, unforgettable tale of hardship, tenacity, love, and heartache.
Review of Helen Bryan's "The Valley"
“The Valley” by Helen Bryan is a beautiful novel of love, loss and friendship spanning several generations from the 1750’s to the 1830’s. The Honorable Sophia Grafton has everything a young entitled woman could want, beauty, a doting father and a grand estate in England she will inherit one day. However, life does not turn out as expected for Sophia. Upon her father’s death she learns that the estate is in arrears and any property or monies she was to inherit is now gone. The only thing left to her is a large portion of land in Virginia granted to her father from the King. Determined to pay off her father’s debt and one day return to reclaim her property Sophia leaves for the New World and her new life in Virginia.
However, in order to turn her land in Virginia into a thriving plantation she must enlist the help of a handsome man from her past, abused slaves running from their master and a father and two sons escaping servitude. Often difficult, but worth the challenge, together they work Sophia’s land to forge a new life for themselves while developing friendships that will span a generation and last a lifetime.
I really liked this book. Anyone who has spent time in Colonial Williamsburg will particularly enjoy picturing the sites and buildings described by Helen Bryan in her novel. The characters had distinctive personalities and all woven together made a beautiful patchwork quilt of love and family. Overall my favorite characters in “The Valley” were Sophia and Meshack. Sophia’s development through the book was amazing to watch, from a spoiled child, to a beautiful young woman, to a determined land owner in a new world responsible for not only herself but for those she took along to help. Her fierce love for her family and loyalty to her friends was something to behold. Her strength of character, courage and stubbornness was a combination of Cora Cash (An American Heiress) and Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With The Wind).
Meshack was strong and fierce and a force to be reckoned with in times of trouble, but had a wonderful gentle and tender side for those he loved and cared for. I particularly enjoyed the bond he and Malinda shared, I loved the scenes between the two of them. My only disappointment was Henri. Henri did what he had to do to help those he care for survive, but I just wish he would have loved Sophia a little more than he did. I always felt like he gave only half of himself and held back the rest. Watching the adults and children grow and change over the decades gave me a sense of closure, yet I hated to see them go.
Well worth the time “The Valley” is a wonderful read, especially if you like Historical Fiction. It has beautiful characters, love, courage, adventure and friendships that last a lifetime. You will feel a variety of emotions as you read through the story and the characters will stay with you long after the last page is turned. Best of all this is Book 1 of a planned Trilogy, so I have more to look forward to from the author. Do yourself a favor and begin “The Valley” today.
I appreciate being given an advanced copy of Helen Bryan’s “The Valley” from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
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