Beth Kanell's ardor and mastery of her craft have been apparent in her rich novels, set in her home state, of Vermont, for quite some time. She still walks the winding trails of Caledonia County. Its history, green hills, forests, and rivers, have long fascinated the writer, and from its rich past, she has hoisted from its deep wells, for her fresh and authentic tales.
Book 1 in the Winds of Freedom Series, The Long Shadow, began in 1850. Book 2 – This Ardent Flame is set in 1852 and finds returning heroine Alice Sanborn, now seventeen years old, living in the farming village of North Upton, (North Danville.). Much of the novel takes place in other towns in the Northeast Kingdom, including Saint Johnsbury, and even mentions the Gillman Mills.
Alice is seriously expecting Abolitionist political operative Solomon McBride, when he visits North Upton, to court her. Soon though another young woman arrives from the big city of Boston, filled with notions and radical political ideas for the mid-1800s. Temperance, the right to vote for women. Alice is soon caught up in the need for activism. Pretty Almyra though, could also be a potential rival for the affections of Solomon McBride.
Alice soon wants to savor it all, while also become friends with Almyra, but she is a bit hesitant, feeling that a friendship with Caroline Clark, the returning deaf girl, might be a safer bet. Caroline who studied at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, is fluent in American Sign Language, and Alice quickly learns to sign for herself.
Soon the pressure to stop talking about abolition and take action sends Alice into action, with her three new friends. Danger and back-stabbing. Adventure and activism. Young women learning to become a force for change, and struggling to find their voices in a slowly changing country.
Famous historical figures also make appearances in this well-paced and exciting read. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clarina Howard Nichols, and Eli Thayer.
Beth Kanell's keen eye for authentic historical detail brilliantly supports the novel's narrative, and the world of nature is never far away. Sentence by sentence the reader is drawn into this wonderful novel, as enjoyable for a younger person as it is for those much older. A great story is still a great story, regardless of the age of the reader.
There is a hint near the end of This Ardent Flame, that a third novel in the series could be in the works.
Let's hope so.