Josephine Bell is a well-off Victorian English girl until her father’s death plunges the family into deep poverty. Sunk in despair, she finds hope in the preaching of Mormon missionaries from America. Lured by their promises of a life of abundance in the Utah territory, Josephine boldly makes the treacherous journey to the Western frontier. With her newfound faith to guide her, she braves the perilous sea voyage across the Atlantic and the grueling continental trail to reach her new home. But on arrival, instead of Paradise, she finds hunger, hard labor, and a forced polygamous marriage to a man old enough to be her grandfather. Lost and on the brink of giving up, Josephine must rely on her courage, faith, and new friends to see her through her tumultuous new life on the frontier.
Based on family history, Nadene LeCheminant’s THE GATES OF EDEN is a sweeping tale rich in historical detail and characterization. LeCheminant is a gifted storyteller, her prose elegant and finely crafted. From the beginning, the narrative pulls you in and holds your attention right to the very end. Particularly, THE GATES OF EDEN is a story of hope and survival. Furthermore, it’s a testament to the monumental strength and faith of the early Western pioneers, especially the women, and the extraordinary courage they showed in taming the wilderness in their quest for a better life.
In addition, THE GATES OF EDEN offers readers a fascinating glimpse into the early history of the Church of Latter-day Saints. Another hallmark of the book is the author’s vivid description of the Western frontier landscape; her minute detailing of its flora and fauna, sights, sounds, and smells captures a portrait of a world that is magnificent, barren, dangerous, and promising all at the same time.
The characters in the novel are well fleshed out, varied, and memorable. Protagonist Josephine is highly relatable and admirable in her strength and determination to make the most of the perilous journey and confusing circumstances in which she finds herself. Brigham Young makes an appearance, while Josephine’s friends like the uneducated yet wise cook Peart Maisey provide much-needed help and encouragement.
In THE GATES OF EDEN, gifted storyteller Nadene LeCheminant has written an inspiring historical novel, rich in detail and elegant prose, that is sure to entertain and educate. History buffs and fiction fans alike will enjoy it immensely.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader