PUBLICATION DATE: OCTOBER 01, 2012
ntil recently, Lydia Pallas lived a life of chaos and turmoil. Her childhood was filled with tragedy and disappointment. But now Lydia finally has control over her life. With a wonderful home and a great job as a linguist for the U.S. Navy, Lydia settles in to a life of normalcy.
Until Alexander Banebridge (“Bane”) enters her life and turns it upside down.
When Bane asks her to translate a series of seemingly harmless documents, she reluctantly agrees. Lydia needs the money, but she soon realizes that she is in for more than she bargained for.
As the circumstances escalate, Lydia is drawn into a crusade with Bane against some of the most powerful people on the East Coast. And Lydia must draw on everything she knows – and strength she didn’t know she had – in order to save and protect those who are innocent.
Against the Tide continues the story of Bane, a criminal who turned to God, from Elizabeth Camden’s first novel, The Lady of Bolton Hill.
For me this book got off to somewhat of a rocky start. The beginning of this book was just heartbreaking, and it was hard for me to continue reading, but I did have hope that surely things would get better for Lydia. Also, something about the first half of the book felt drawn out to me. Once the characters and setting were set up, the story slowed down until a little over halfway through the book. But then it picked up and was exciting until the conclusion.
I really liked the setting of this book. We took a trip to Boston several years ago, and it is a fascinating city with history around every corner. It was interesting to see the city through the eyes of those in the 1890s, and the naval aspect added to the appeal as well.
I also really liked the two main characters in this novel. I was especially fascinated by Lydia’s job translating for the Department of the Navy, and I absolutely loved the witty banter between Lydia and Bane. The characters were written in such a way that even if I didn’t necessarily relate to them, I still felt as if I knew them very well. Lydia’s fastidiousness and Bane’s determination came through loud and clear and gave them dimension on many levels – almost to where they sometimes seemed to be a bit over-the-top. But, this made them more realistic as well. They weren’t perfect and both characters experienced significant growth over the course of the novel.
The main bad guy in this novel is also a carryover from the previous novel, and he was even more diabolical in this one. Again, I felt the character was kind of exaggerated to the point of disbelief, but it made for a great and suspenseful story.
One thing that I thought was presented well was the topic of drug addiction. This was especially true because of the time period. More and more was being learned about medicine and about the human body at this time, but there was still so much that was not known. Things that were seemingly innocuous at the time (putting opium in medications for children) were then found to be extremely harmful and addictive. It was interesting that a character had become addicted to opium without completely realizing it. The novel also showed the strength it takes for someone to admit that they have an addiction and to go through the necessary steps, both physical and spiritual, to overcome that addiction. I do wish the descriptions of the withdrawal weren’t quite so detailed, but it was definitely realistic.
Another theme that ran through the course of this novel was the predicament between obeying the law and “doing what is right.” The characters several times did things that were technically against the law, such as sneaking into a government building to search for proof of fraud, in order to fight against something they felt was morally wrong. They consistently lied and did other things that were contrary to God’s law, but they did these things in order to rescue children who had been kidnapped and to stop the sale of opium to unsuspecting people.
Which brings up an interesting question – is it ever OK to break the law or even go against God’s law (i.e. lying, stealing) in order to do what you think is ultimately right? I don’t claim to have the answer to this question because I don’t think it has a black and white answer. There are plenty of instances in history and even in the Bible when this has been the case. The people who worked for the Underground Railroad technically broke the law when they hid slaves and helped them escape to freedom. But they were showing Christ’s love to people who were unfairly in bondage. Rahab technically lied to the soldiers when she hid the spies before the destruction of Jericho. But she knew they were sent from the Lord and needed help, and she is even mentioned in Hebrews as having great faith.
Again, I don’t claim to have a firm answer to this question, but it is something to think about.
On the spiritual side of things, besides the excellent moral questions it brought up, I thought the novel was lacking. There were many times that God and salvation and the Bible (even New Testament references) were mentioned, but it was not completely clear to me where Christ fit into the picture. Christ is never mentioned by name. At least one of the characters claims to come to faith in God, but Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness of sins is never mentioned.
Against the Tide brings up some great moral quandaries, but it felt lacking in its spiritual completeness. Even so, the story is suspenseful, engaging, and rich in historical detail.