Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Louise E. Rule Reviews A Newfound Land by Anna Belfrage

Would you like to win a copy of Anna Belfrage's book A Newfound Land? Then all you have to do is leave a comment below or on The Review Blog Page to be entered into the draw.

A Newfound Land by Anna Belfrage – Reviewed by Louise E. Rule

A Newfound Land is Anna’s fourth book in the time-slip series of The Graham Saga. The story continues, and although is complete in itself, Anna weaves the salient points from the other three books seamlessly into this one so that the reader is kept fully up to date of past events. Having said this, I was so involved with the story that when I had finished I just had to buy the other three books just to flesh out those episodes alluded to in the fourth book.

First of all I would like to say that I like the cover to A Newfound Land. The font looks as though it has been written with a quill pen or a dip-pen, and the background picture shows arrows, feathers, and to the top a shadow of a map of what I suspect to be of ‘the new country’ all in sepia tones as if aged. Book covers matter and should be relevant to the book, and this one is perfect, as with all Anna’s covers.

The story starts with the Grahams in the ‘new country,’ having left Scotland because of religious persecution. Matthew is devastated at having to leave Hillview in Ayrshire, the family homestead for generations. Their new home, after nearly four years, is still incomplete, a work in progress. Their nearest neighbour is ‘well over an hour’s ride away.’ The Grahams have been here since 1668 cutting down virgin forest to build a home and make ‘several sizeable fields and pastures, a respectable kitchen garden…’ Anna has a special way of describing the surroundings for the Grahams so that the reader can be placed right beside them. So much so that you feel almost like you are eavesdropping on their private lives in the telling of the story. 

I like the way that Anna has Alex using her 21st century language with Matthew; for example from the very beginning there is the use of the word ‘okay’ which eventually the family uses as common parlance. At one point in the story Alex says, ‘I feel like a teenager…’ and it is only then that you realise that it is an alien expression for that era. When I realised this I had to look it up and found that the word was not really in existence or use until the early 1940s as sited in The Popular Science Monthly in the United States.

1941 Pop. Sci. Monthly Apr. 223/2, I never knew teen-agers could be so serious. (Taken from the Internet).

It’s this kind of detail that makes Anna Belfrage’s novels work so well. Time-slip is a fanciful thing, but her book challenges your thinking on this and makes it totally believable. She makes the reader aware of the uncertainties, the traumas, the loneliness that comes with populating a ‘New World’. For all that, you find yourself admiring the tenacity of the Grahams to carve out a home and a life for themselves and their children. I also like the way that Alex’s free modern day thinking is challenged by Matthew, as it is only he who can name each child that they have. It is he who is in charge of their spiritual life.

Matthew has a clergyman temporarily staying in their home to teach their children the Bible and general education. Alex is put out by this, especially when the clergyman, Richard Campbell, belittles her in front of her husband and children after she tells Campbell that he is wrong. He then tells the children, ‘Your mother has no idea what she’s talking about; she’s a woman.’ And, ‘Man is set to rule over woman on account of his intellect and spiritual strength. Women are more prone to be taken over by the devil, seeing as they’re weaker souls.’ This causes a rift between Alex and Matthew as he doesn’t defend her. We feel her betrayal as Matthew refuses to back her up in front of their children. Will they ever heal their rift?

The history of the time, the way the Native Americans are discriminated against, the slavery, the abduction of the Native American women to become ‘good Christian wives’ is woven through the book seamlessly. Anna does not hold back with the terror of the times. Equally, the same with the continuing love story between Alex and Matthew, at times, explicit, but tender; Anna is not shy in the detail.

An old adversary from their previous encounters reappears to lay troubles at their door yet again. Jones was Matthew’s tormentor in the previous books and they are both shocked to see each other again. A new fight begins. Will Matthew and Alex win this time? The tension is palpable, as Anna takes us forward through the story.

I found it difficult to put this book down, but daily life has to go on. So at every opportunity I would sit and read some more, and was completely taken over by the story. Some might want to compare Anna’s Graham Saga to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, but in my opinion, their content places them in different genres as the Outlander series also includes some science fiction as well as fantasy, and Anna Belfrage’s series is firmly based in its accurately historical time frame.
Image of Anna Belfrage
Anna Belfrage is also the author of A Rip in the Veil; Like Chaff in the Wind; and The Prodigal Son, which are books one, two and three respectively in The Graham Saga.

You can read all about Anna Belfrage on her website by clicking here.

Louise E. Rule is author of Future Confronted         
Louise can be reached on Facebook, Twitter and on her Blog.


  1. A superb review - really does justice to Anna's ongoing achievement

  2. Oh yes this review is spot on. I have read this book and thought how well Anna brings out the contrast between now and then through her characters; how we have changed, how life has changed thankfully for women. I loved the family and like you Louise , do intend to go back and read the others. Covers are indeed lovely. She is such a good writer, one of my current favourites.

    1. I have now read the whole series one after the other, and was thoroughly enthralled. I am now waiting, genuinely, with baited breath for the next installment Carol.

  3. I agree with you about the cover, Louise. The cover DOES matter, and this one is appealing. I intend to start reading Anna's books, and I could start with this one if I am lucky! Thank you.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. VI have read all four of Anna's Graham Saga novels on my Kindle. I enjoyed them so much that I would love to collect them all in real book format as I do with Dorothy Dunnett, Sharon Kay Penman and Diana Gabaldon's books.

  6. Would love to get to know this historical author´s work. Impressed with people who write in their second language and with all the research that must lay behind this type of book. I have not heard of this author here in her country of origins, Sweden. I am curious!

  7. Louise, you have done it again!!! What a superb review for a book that I also--especially after having read another in this series--would love to read.

  8. I want to get my hands on all of these books as I am sure they are full of Anna's insightful writing. !!!

    1. I had to buy them all after reading number 4 Debra.

  9. Great review! Would love to win this book.... :-)

  10. Deirdre O'Mahony here. Fabulous review - plenty of information without spoiling the story. I'm already itching to read it...