As many of you know I have a love/hate relationship with Christian Historical Fiction.
I love selecting and buying it, but the end results are seldom pleasing.
Luckily ( and more frequent of late ), there have been some wonderful exceptions. Long have I thought that "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a literate woman in want of a literate Christian historical novel will be left unsatisfied" but the tune is changing.
It changed brightly this Summer when I stumbled upon a gorgeous, rollicking and fun regency called "All the Tea in China" by Christian novelist Jane Orcutt.
This was clever writing, witty Austen-esque dialogue, a great, sword-wielding heroine with humour and aplomb, strong and resourceful, and a somewhat disguised hero named Phineas ( who is the most original Christian hero I have ever come across in a book.... well atleast since John Murphy in a perennial favourite of mine, Vienna Prelude ).
I loved the setting, the fact that it was set on a ship, the way the characters met, the historical accuracy, the beautiful descriptive tapestry and the fact in made me laugh ( and in the right places, thank you very much).
So, eager to find out what Jane Orcutt had in store for me in the future, I logged onto her website tonight. Perhaps I was prompted by the fact I had sold a couple of these books to secular readers last week just before Thanksgiving.
To my utter dismay, I discovered that Jane Orcutt passed away from Leukemia this past March.
How horrible! She had such potential. I was hoping this stand-alone historical would lead to more great work.
So, in her memory, I am devoting this whole blog post to rave:
You were one smart duck, Jane Orcutt, I have yet to find another Christian Historical that had a TWIST to its plot. You did the industry proud. And, of course, the highest praise I can bestow on a Christian writer and usually reserved for the usual suspects: Dale Cramer, Bodie Thoene, Catherine Marshall and, recently, Geoff Wood---
it was so good I forgot I was reading a Christian novel.
NOTE:For those of you who are not quite sure about delving into this subject reluctant to read preachy matter, the Christian themes in this novel are just that... themes.... it is very subtle and not overly set on converting people. No fire and brimstone here! Just a great novel with some great morals and a couple of brilliantly funny love scenes.