Thursday, 4 June 2015

Louise Reviews To Catch a Falling Star by Anna Belfrage

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To Catch a Falling Star - Book eight in The Graham Saga by Anna Belfrage

Have you ever read a series, and at the end of it, wondered just what did happen to so-and-so? Have you been frustrated about not knowing? Have the loose ends been left wafting carelessly?

Anna Belfrage's Graham Saga won't leave you feeling this way. I have read many series: more often than not they have been between four and eight books long, some longer, some less; The Graham Saga consists of eight books. Each book can be read in isolation from the others; however, Belfrage joins them all together in such a way that the reader is not left wondering about the reason why that character, for example, is behaving in such-and-such a way. There are no loose ends. Each end gradually gets tied to its fellow as the story progresses through all the books. There is no hurried joining of long forgotten threads at the end, and there is no wondering about the why, what or who.

Belfrage's first book in the series, A Rip in the Veil, is the first step into the journey of Alexandra Ruth Lind. It's a journey that will take the reader through many highs and lows, twisting the readers' nerves to their nth degree, and then releasing the reader to breathe again. 

Belfrage's first book begins:

The radio died first. Halfway through Enrique Iglesias' 'Hero' there was a burst of static and the display went black. The dashboard lights gave up one by one, the steering wheel locked, the engine coughed, and the BMW glided to a stop by a crossroads.

So begins our journey alongside Alex Lind. The jeopardy hook has been cast and the reader, from the very beginning, is holding their breath.

As the reader journeys through each book, and it is a journey, they become deeply acquainted with the ever growing family Graham. These characters are written in such detail, such dimension, that the reader cannot help but become involved, albeit from the side-lines. There is a deftness of language that Belfrage invests in her characters. The modern language of Alex Lind, for example, combines with the seventeenth century language of her husband, Matthew Graham. It is interesting when the juxtaposition of the twentieth/twenty-first century language abuts the language of the seventeenth century. One prime example, which is first evident in book one, is the constant use of the word okay, by Alex. This is a complete unknown word in the seventeenth century.

The Online Etymology Dictionary states:

1839, only survivor of a slang fad in Boston and New York c. 1838-9 for abbreviations of common phrases with deliberate, jocular misspellings (such as K.G. for "no go," as if spelled "know go;" N.C. for "'nuff ced;" K.Y. for "know yuse"). In the case of O.K., the abbreviation is of "Oll Korrect."

There is a perpetual use of this word throughout the entire series, seeping into the family's own language, and becomes a part of them. The same applies with another twentieth century word that Belfrage uses: teenager in book four, A Newfound Land. As with okay, not at first seeming anachronistic, until Belfrage has Matthew Graham questioning the word which has been used.

The Online Etymology Dictionary states:

Teenager (n), also teen ager, teen-ager; 1922, derived noun from teenage (q.v.). The earlier word for this was teener, attested in American English from 1894, and teen had been used as a noun to mean "teen-aged person" 1818, though this was not common before twentierh century.

When I came to read the final book in Belfrage's Graham Saga, I could not imagine not having another book to look forward to. After drawing in a steadying breath, I started reading. I knew, from the previous books, that this would also be a white knuckle ride for the Grahams.

Titles for books are so important, as I am sure you will agree. To Catch a Falling Star had me wondering what this title could possibly mean. The previous seven book titles became evident in the reading. The title for the final book, however, had me wondering. Was I going to read that one of my favourite characters had come to the end of their life? Maybe. Was there going to be dire circumstances through which the characters would have to travel? Well, yes, as always, the Graham's lives were fraught with highs and lows, peace, and trouble, also the continuing conflicts with religious beliefs. To Catch a Falling Star is the perfect title for the final book, and I only truly felt this once I had read the final chapter. Throughout the book there is a subtle tying of lives to their roots, a bringing together of each strand so that it can be joined to its fellow. The seamless nature in which Belfrage accomplishes this task, for surely it must be a task, is breath-taking.

Belfrage confronts many ideals within her books, such as, religion, race, and slavery, to mention but a few. These subjects are not handled tentatively, but with great force and assurance, bringing to the forefront all that each subject entails. These have been woven into the books, not as a demonstration that Belfrage knows much about these subjects, for surely she does, it's more that she has highlighted, in an erudite fashion, how these subjects affect each and every one of us, not just then, back in the seventeenth century, but even now. The past does inform and influence the future. Belfrage tackles issues that we are aware of, but in the reading, with that issue placed upon a character, it becomes more personal. The issue becomes implanted, and for me at least, lead to my reading more about those issues when I had finished each book. To say that Belfrage tugs at our psyche is an understatement. The issues become the force which drives the story forward, from the first through to the last book.

To Catch a Falling Star has the most profound moments between father and daughter, between sister and sister, and between sister and husband, and not least, between mother and child. The profundity of Belfrage's writing has laid before me, as a writer, that there is most assuredly an accountability to the reader. That accountability is to write the best book that is possible to write, and to give the reader a worthwhile experience.

With The Graham Saga, there can be no definitive ending, after all, the family live on. So, their future becomes speculative, and with the knowledge of the books which have gone before, the reader can, with some educated guessing, imagine what befalls each one; or can they? Even then, however, I am sure you will agree, if you have travelled through all eight books, there is a bright hope that Belfrage will concede to entertain us with more stories of The Graham Saga. There is a saying that it is always better to leave the party early. I would hope, most sincerely, however, that Anna Belfrage will honour us with an encore.

The Graham Saga:
A Rip in the Veil; Like Chaff in the Wind; The Prodigal Son; Newfound Land; Serpents in the Garden; Wither Thou Goest; and concluding with To Catch a Falling Star.

Anna Belfrage has so generously offered a FREE COPY of To Catch a Falling Star in Kindle format for one lucky winner. To get your name in the hat, simply comment below or at this review's Facebook thread, located here
We will draw a name from commenters 
on June 10. Good luck!

You can read more about Anna Belfrage on her website on Facebook, on Twitter and on her blog.

Louise E. Rule is the author of Future Confronted and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and on her blog.


  1. I can't wait to read the conclusion (?) to the Graham Saga.

  2. Sounds great though I have a lot of the earlier ones in the series to catch up with...

  3. Thank you for a beautiful review. Here I am, far from home, jetlagged and grumpy, and after reading this I soar (and cry - happy tears). An encore is niggling at my brain - insistently.

  4. I am so pleased that you liked my review, Anna, and happy tears are a good thing!

  5. Yay, Anna! Encore please materialize!I love this series. Just got this one.