In this inspirational romance/adventure novel, young Emma Lee is sent from her Miami home in 1904 to live with her Aunt Augusta on the Little Island of Merritt. The Island sounds like a tropical paradise, but Emma has no clue why she is being sent away in the first place. Her aunt is the village schoolteacher and a bit the prickly type. She expects Emma to be very studious and hardworking. Despite her homesickness, Emma makes the best of her situation and soon makes friends; her most admired new comrade being Captain Stone, a God-fearing man who takes a sincere, fatherly liking to Emma. While adapting to her new surroundings, Emma braves rattlesnakes, fierce storms, and the dark secret in her family that explains why she was sent away.
She learns from the Captain to trust in “Papa” God, and sees on numerous occasions how His hand of protection remains upon her.
Here’s an excerpt:
Gazing at the last rays of sunlight casting hues of gold, russet, and rose over the shimmering waters always made Emma-Lee feel thankful for this special gift from God. He felt so near during these quiet times of reflection. Her heart felt full to overflowing with God’s presence. “Sometimes I think this island is a little bit of heaven that fell from the sky and landed between two rivers,” Emma-Lee mused. “When the angels found it, they said ‘Suppose we leave it that way, for it looks so beautiful there’. So they decorated it all up with palm trees and orange trees and birds and sunshine and heavenly sunsets. I Think Papa God comes here at the end of each day to smile.”
The Distant Shore is exciting, with vivid, breezy writing, and has all the elements of a fine book- good writing, vibrant characters, sound morals, romance, conflict, and adventure. Your daughters will especially enjoy Emma’s strong yet vulnerable character, and one can’t help but fall in love with all the supporting characters. Even the prickly Augusta doesn’t take long to reveal her tenderhearted side. There is some domestic violence and a plot thread that involves a character being beaten by some thugs. These elements can be discussed. How does God show his faithfulness to Emma Lee and to those she loves? Why do the Captain and his own family risk their own life to save Julius’? And does Emma and Captain Stone’s family’s fervent prayers effect the outcome of a potentially life or death situation?
The Distant Shore can be turned into a combined reading/creative writing venture- the end of the book contains suggestions for creative writing exercises for each of the chapters. The sequel is Billowing Sails, and I am looking forward to reviewing that as well in the near future.