A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.
The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.
My Thoughts: I struggled a bit in the beginning with this one, but once I was hooked, I was really hooked and couldn’t put it down! I always appreciate historical fiction for the insights into lesser known areas of history, and Hedlund is a master at her research. The setting comes to life with a hard look at the plight of the poor and the destruction of the gangs of New York City. A new-to-me lesson was that they sent workers out west as well as young orphans. I enjoyed seeing more on the development of a new town.
The spiritual lessons were just as strongly woven into the story as the history lessons were. We’re treated to themes such as fighting fair, finding strength in humility, not judging those beneath you, and trusting God for your needs and at to be with you in the dark times.
There were some great twist and turns along the way, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next with this family.
Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving With You Always 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical Christian Fiction or stories about the Orphan train.
~I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.