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.
Back in November 2015, I had the immense pleasure of reading and reviewing The Lost Girl by Liz Harris as part of a tour organised by Brook Cottage Books. At that time, it was only available as an e-book, but I was really delighted to see that Choc Lit are today publishing it in paperback – available via Amazon in the UK and US – so that everyone can read and enjoy it. They’ve even added a gorgeous new cover.
Now I don’t often do this – I usually say “here’s a link” – but I so loved this book that I’m going to share my review again. You will forgive me, won’t you? If I give you the chance to win an e-copy of your own? Here’s that review again…
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.
So, fancy winning an e-copy? With thanks to author Liz Harris, Choc Lit and Brook Cottage Books, here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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.