What if you were trapped between two cultures?
Life is tough in 1870s Wyoming. But it’s tougher still when you’re a girl who looks Chinese but speaks like an American.
Orphaned as a baby and taken in by an American family, Charity Walker knows this only too well. The mounting tensions between the new Chinese immigrants and the locals in the mining town of Carter see her shunned by both communities.
When Charity’s one friend, Joe, leaves town, she finds herself isolated. However, in his absence, a new friendship with the only other Chinese girl in Carter makes her feel like she finally belongs somewhere.
But, for a lost girl like Charity, finding a place to call home was never going to be that easy.
I was just looking back through my reviews, back to the early days of my love affair with Choc Lit publishing. It was February 2013 when I read my last book by Liz Harris – the really excellent The Road Back – and you can read my Goodreads review here. I loved it so much that all her others are on my Kindle – sadly unread, but in really good company! – but being involved in the blog tour organised by Brook Cottage Books meant I finally got the chance to read one again. The Lost Girl was published by Choc Lit for Kindle on 16th October – available via Amazon UK and Amazon.com – and I have to say I absolutely loved it.
This is a fantastic story of belonging and not belonging, of love in its many guises, of the danger when love is unrequited, of hatred because of the colour of your skin and the shape of your eyes. From the moment young Joe hears the cries of Charity’s dying mother, this book totally gripped me – I carried it everywhere with me just so I could read a little more whenever I had the opportunity. Liz Harris writes so very well – I was totally transported to 1870s Wyoming (now, those must be words you never thought you’d see me write!), with its grinding poverty and hardship making the hatred of the Chinese community who work more cheaply wholly understandable but no less gut wrenching.
Charity and Joe are both wonderful characters, who we grow to love as they grow – her impossible situation with her Chinese looks and her American upbringing, his love for her set against his yearning for the open plains and determination to escape the mines. But the whole cast of characters is drawn so very well – mother Martha gazing longingly at the horizon, husband Hiram who is the love of her life, Charity’s friend Su Lin and her brother Chen Fai, Joe’s embittered brother Sam and his wife Phebe. Lesser characters are equally well done – Joe’s trail partner Ethan, the stable owner Seth, the town marshal, the Chinese priest… this is such excellent writing.
The author’s research has clearly been impeccable – she really brings the era, its tensions, its trials and the small town community vividly to life. I equally enjoyed the time Joe spent herding cattle across the plains, with the most vivid detail about building bridges, crossing rivers, keeping the horses fresh and keeping the herd together.
The love story at the book’s core is absolutely perfect, and I read the last quarter of this wonderful read with my heart in my mouth, and a real physical ache wanting things to work out. And you don’t really think I’m going to tell you how it ends, do you?!
On the face of it, you might think this isn’t a book for you. I’ll admit, I did wonder too when I first picked it up. How totally wrong can you be? A lovely, lovely read that I’d highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a vivid (and perhaps unfamiliar) historical setting, a beautifully told and flowing story that grips you by the heart, and a heartbreaking love story that moves you to the core.
With thanks to Brook Cottage Books, the author and publishers Choc Lit, I’m also also delighted to be able to offer one lucky reader the chance to win an e-copy of this lovely book. Here’s a link to the Rafflecopter:
Liz Harris lives south of Oxford. Her debut novel was THE ROAD BACK (US Coffee Time & Romance Book of 2012), followed by A BARGAIN STRUCK (shortlisted for the RoNA Historical 2013), EVIE UNDERCOVER, THE ART OF DECEPTION and A WESTERN HEART.
All of her novels, which are published by Choc Lit, have been shortlisted in their categories in the Festival of Romantic Fiction. In addition, Liz has had several short stories published in anthologies. Her interests are theatre, travelling, reading, cinema and cryptic crosswords.
Follow Liz on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads: she also has an excellent website.