AHomeinDraytonValley-663x1024Reviewed by Meg Massey

Devastated by the poor conditions of New York City in 1880, Tarsie Raines convinces her ill friend Mary Brubacher and her husband Joss to leave New York City to head to Drayton Valley, Kansas. Tarsie hopes that the move will not only help an ailing Mary recover, but that it will also pull Joss away from the bar scene and back into the home of his family, and the hearts of his two small children. Tarsie decides to accompany them to assist with the journey, and ultimately to pursue a better life of her own.

But when Mary suddenly dies on the way to Kansas, Joss and the children are devastated, and Tarsie feels she must act. After making a promise to a dying Mary to care for Joss and the children, Tarsie decides to marry Joss and care for the family as best as she can. But Joss’ stubborn attitude and tendency to retreat to alcohol and gambling may cause them to lose everything. And when Tarsie befriends a local African American family, she may be putting herself and the children in danger.

Kim Vogel Sawyer has outdone herself with A Home in Drayton Valley, set in the 1880’s. She brilliantly portrays the issues of the time period, including the conditions of cities, racist attitudes and violence, and work conditions. Her characters are vivid. You’ll love opinionated, moral Tarsie, and you’ll most likely feel unsure of Joss for the first part of the novel. But as the story went on, Sawyer transforms Joss into a rich, relatable character in search of meaning and grace. Secondary characters Simon and Ruth are integral to the story, and play a large part in the evolution of Tarsie and Joss’ relationship. Will they be able to make the arrangement work? Or will a secret tear them apart all over again?

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Also by Kim Vogel Sawyer: In Every Heartbeat and Fields of Grace

Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bethany House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.