Across the Formidable Sea by Claire Laminen. Self-published, 2017.This book tells the story of Laura, a twenty-year-old woman who was moved to Stratford from her life in Virginia when her mother married a British Earl. Set in the 1920's, ATFS is very much a story of discovery with a clear life adventure. In the story, Laura struggles with the loss of her father, something that I personally found very relatable and made my liking of this book even stronger.
I am a big fan of historical fiction, which made Across the Formidable Sea an almost instant 'yes!' when I was asked by Claire Laminen if I would like to read and review of copy of the book. Across the Formidable Sea (referred to as ATFS from now on) is Laminen's debut novel, and after reading this book, I can't wait to see what else she has in store.
One of my favorite things about this novel -- other than the characters and setting -- was precisely spot on the pacing was. There were very few - hardly any, actually - instances in which the story felt as if it was dragging, which is something that I have found to be a fairly common trap in historical fiction novels. Laminen has a simple yet elegant manner of writing, which made her narrative flow easily and pleasurably.
Laura is an endearing, resilient character, and I found her personality and mannerisms to be charismatic in an unknowing way. I loved that Laura was absolutely not perfect, but had plenty of flaws and human struggles that contributed to her realistic nature. With the plot of this book, I felt as though many of the characters, including Graham and Sarah, whom she meets in Stratford, could have easily fallen into the stereotypical/cliche category, but Laminen just shied away from that pitfall and managed to make them entirely unique and her own, which was refreshing.
It seems as though Laminen really did her research regarding this time period, 1920's England, and her resulting work is proof of that. I felt completely immersed in the time period and captivated by the wonderful setting. I also want to add that I loved the horses and horse-racing parts of this book, as I have always enjoyed and been fascinated by that world.
As a debut novel, ATFS is remarkable. I found a few scenes in this book to be slightly awkward, but overall there was nothing that stood out as overly negative to me. There are always improvements to be made, and I feel that each book Laminen will be better than the last.
Overall, this entire book was just a delight to read. Things have been fairly rough in my life lately, and I had such a great -and much needed- time escaping into this world Laminen has created. Therefore, I have given Across the Formidable Sea four stars!
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