Blog Book Tour | “A Pivotal Right” (Book Two: Shaking the Tree series) by K.A. Servian with recollections and thoughts on behalf of (book one) “A Moral Compass”

Posted Monday, 19 November, 2018 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! When I saw this was a series in-progress, I submitted a purchase request at my library for the first novel “A Moral Compass” which was accepted and I happily had the chance to read the first novel before moving into the sequel. I decided to share my thoughts on the first installment for my own edification as much as continuing to share my readerly life with readers of my blog. I was not obliged to post my opinions or thoughts and likewise was not compensated for their inclusion.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Pivotal Right” direct from the author K.A. Servian in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On reading ‘A Moral Compass’: the first installment

You truly are attached to the approach Servian makes to alight inside the world of this young woman – travelling abroad, facing tempests of rage on the sea with her father and her brother. As this was writ in an Epistolary styling, you feel even closer to her ordeal as emotionally, Servian has her readers well by entrusting us with the truth straight out of the gate without softening the directness of what must be told. When travelling by ship, it is hard to reconcile loss – cast off so far from where you started your journey and not even yet arrived to where you were destined; it is a loss on all fronts, and this is what made the opening pages so very dramatic to read! You can instantly connect with the protagonist – not just for the heartache but the desolation and uncertainty which follows.

I appreciated the poet nature of Servian, to tuck us close inside how Florence perceives the world inasmuch as how she internalises her experiences. It is lovely to find an author such as this whose a wordsmith who can deepen the historical backdrop by placing us inside the eloquence of sophisticated depictions and declarations. I love finding this style – it is one of my favourites for reading Historicals as the writers who marry the older variants of speech and historic detail whilst consuming our minds with an enlightening plot are the ones who hold my attention the most!

Time continues to shift forward as we settle into the relationship being built between Florence and Emile. Theirs was a relationship forged out of a circumstance that by default of the customs of their day ought not to have happened as it was against social norms. There are moments like these where you truly see how restrictive women were and how despite the earnest interest of men, they did not have as much freedom to pursue someone they were keen on growing attached unless they could come up with a few creative ways to ensure their rendezvous.

Why brothers would even consider to dilute the love of their sisters is unknown, though in truth I believe he was trying to save her feelings and her heart; knowing the extent of their father’s distrust of the French. For Florence had falling in love with a Frenchman and her secreted relationship was clearly against all boundaries of society – the fact her brother aided her attempts to see this man was telling. For he had his own reasons to keep Florence’s secret and that in of itself spoke volumes about his own character inasmuch as his morals.

There is a moment in the early pages where we first learn what A Moral Compass encompasses and how it cross-relates into the narrative itself. Despite knowing the definition used and how it is brokering to affect the connection Florence shares with Emile, what is critical to note is how interesting it is limited to only one point of view and places the blame on women when it takes two to make a relationship. Both of Florence and Emile had chosen to go against the rules of their own houses in order to let the sparks between grow into a mutually accounted love affair. They knew what they were doing and they still decided to go against convention – it is not just a question of morality and spiritual enlightenment but rather, what is the truer cost of living in the height of the moment in pursuit of (perceived) true love?

I had to smile – the Bracknells were such an unexpected delight! The kind of neighbours Florence and her brother needed in New Zealand! I agree with Florence, the choice in relocation felt odd but if you stacked the oddity of its location against the crimes their father was guilty of committing – it felt like it was the only place he could secure them a future without society’s long arm of judgement reaching them. As soon as they arrived – not to an established farm but a shack on watery ground, I knew it was going to grow even more interesting from here!

This is a story broaching a heavier topic of what happens when your fate is reversed, where your safety nets are erased and where you have only your wit, grit and determination to turn round the clock on what has suddenly become your new normalcy of life. For Florence it was nearly too much to overturn and yet, here her brother was suddenly finding himself empowered to make a go of the place. It proves that sometimes a change as radical as the one they were experiencing now is enough to give someone a swift kick in the right direction after living a life on the rails!

When Jack entered the picture, your heart went out to him as he was talking about the prejudices of the English against the Scots; he, being of the latter, it was a proper shock to him that these issues were crossing the ocean and finding him in New Zealand. An honest trader by trade, he was intending to set-up his own shoppe and create a foundation on the reputation he had with his customers; except to say, not everything goes according to this ideal plan! Whilst making his final rounds and seeing the Bracknell’s before moving straight into Wellington, he comes across Florence and her ill-gotten brother. The brother of course, has made a deal against her and even forsaken the land in which they inherited from their late father. To think even this small ounce of land was stolen by cards and the drink which aches to be consumed by her brother, even Florence had reach a tipping point in what she could handle.

By the time she learnt of the deal associating her with Jack, she was wretched beyond what her nerves could handle and it did not surprise me she went straight to Mrs Bracknell to see if she could ink out a different path for her to endure. This was a hard land – a country still finding itself towards civilisation and with all the hardships of the American West; where you have colonists and natives at odds with each other, re-pleat with the distrust and the animosity that went with it.

Here we can understand why Florence is hesitating to accept Jack but without his mercy, I am unsure how long she thinks she can last as she has already withered away to mere bone and slackened skin. Her heart might be strong but without the proper nutrition and a way to make a living, her fate is nearly sealed to the grave without any further action on her behalf. For Jack, you can truly see he was changed by what he found when he came across the two – living as they were and finding that their naivety and their distrust was slowly churning into their doom.

Shortly after I wrote these notes, I became so dearly attached to the dramatic upheavals of Florence and Jack’s lives – I stopped writing down my reactions! It is hard to even put into words how gutting it was to read what became of them and how, through a lot of sinister and under-handed goings-on outside their control, they ultimately were dealt a hard fate to swallow! There were portions of their lives which I felt were a bit slightly over the top – there were separations I felt which were unnecessary past the first one – where truly, it was sounding more fictional than realistic; even so, I couldn’t stop reading the story!

What staid with me the most is how Florence truly staid a woman of her faith, strongly attached to her moral convictions and each time life sought to destroy her, she proved her fragility was only of the surface. She was a remarkable woman of strength, seeking to right the sails of her life even when everything was shattering round her and that I think, is a testament of how not allowing adversity to best you. Even when it felt there was no recourse for what she knew and what she had witnessed, she still found a way to redeem herself. She never gave up the hope of finding out what became of Jack – a part of her I think never truly let go of him. How unkind it was for them to truly become separated not out of a lack of love or commitment but due to the actions of others who were acting on their behalf without even a measure of remorse for those actions.

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Blog Book Tour | “A Pivotal Right” (Book Two: Shaking the Tree series) by K.A. Servian with recollections and thoughts on behalf of (book one) “A Moral Compass”A Pivotal Right
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Florence struggled for breath as she stared into the face of a ghost. “Jack?”

Twenty years after being forced apart Jack and Florence have been offered a second chance at love. But can they find their way back to each other through all the misunderstandings, guilt and pain?

And what of their daughter, Viola? Her plan to become a doctor is based on the belief she has inherited her gift her medicine from Emile, the man she believed was her father. How will she reconcile her future with the discovery that she is Jack’s child?

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780473449698

on 15th August, 2018

Pages: 428

Shaking the Tree series:

The Moral Compass (book one)

Add to LibraryThing | Borrow from a Library

A Pivotal Right (book two)

Converse via: #ShakingTheTree + #HistFic or #HistNov

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

About K.A. Servian

K.A. Servian

As a life-long creative, Kathy gained qualifications in fashion design, applied design to fabric and jewelry making and enjoyed a twenty-year-plus career in the fashion and applied arts industries as a pattern maker, designer and owner of her own clothing and jewelry labels.

She then discovered a love of teaching and began passing on the skills accumulated over the years’ design, pattern-making, sewing, Art Clay Silver, screen-printing and machine embroidery to name a few.

Creative writing started as a self-dare to see if she had the chops to write a manuscript. Writing quickly became an obsession and Kathy’s first novel, Peak Hill, which was developed from the original manuscript, was a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand Pacific Hearts Full Manuscript contest in 2016.

Kathy now squeezes full-time study for an advanced diploma in creative writing in around working on her novels, knocking out the occasional short story, teaching part-time and being a wife and mother.

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on where we left florence and jack:

I could well see how twenty years could pass between Florence and Jack – as at the very end of The Moral Compass we were already ten years separated from the life they shared and the new life she had to forge with Emile. That is a bit of irony, how my opinion of Emile changed as soon as he tried to become her knight of rescue, misunderstanding what she truly needed and in the end, wanted only to seek his own interests off the fortunes she was given herself. Everything Florence had in New Zealand she had because she kept believing tomorrow would be better than today – she did not always understand why her life had to be as difficult as it had been, but she had a firm belief that if she tried to seek out the positives, surely they would alighten.

This wasn’t always the case, mind you, as she was rebellious and stubborn when she was younger – time eased her spirit to be less reckless and more thoughtful as the years progressed, but evenso, she had enablers round her who wanted to manipulate her destiny. They toyed with her emotions and psychological well-being for their own means and in doing so, I believed they undercut her will to rise above their influences. In the end, the choice she made for the reasons she needed to make them could not be disputed as she was once again a woman without (immediate) means of self-support.

Her life was arduous and complex; for a young girl orphaned on a ship, she made the most of what she could find. The interesting bit is how much growth she experienced (especially through marriage to Jack) and how much her own brother rose in his own shoes to be something more than a drifter looking for a cheap excuse to wittle away his profits. They both had gained much more than they had lost by coming to the new country to the point where having her return to England felt so dearly unjust.

Jack’s side of the story was even more emotional to read – talk about a man who had traversed beyond and back just to secure his right to contact his wife, finding that all was for naught and his losses were turnt against him. He was targeted by one of the secondary characters in the novel who also had pinned his eyes on Florence; it was this particular person’s actions which undercut all the good they had created between them.

On that note, I felt the length of their separation should have ended after Florence returnt to Wellington; the extended absence of Jack did not feel as sincere nor as realistic in context to their established plight. The whole extension of where he was and what was happening to him, I felt was unnecessary as the drama had already been established to where it felt shockingly real enough as it were. This was the only thing I wished could have been altered as if you picked up their situations on Florence’s return – even keeping with Emile being brought back into the picture, it still would have been as compelling as it was now.

my review of a pivotal right:

Like mother, like daughter – Viola encountered Liam the same way Florence had first met Emile. I believe this happened to show how despite Viola believing she had nothing in common with her mother, sometimes karma has other plans! For instance, what better way to prove there are aspects of Florence instilled inside her daughter than to let certain aspects of history slowly start to repeat itself? In this, we find how headstrong Viola is and why this reminds us of another young woman she mirrors on a first expedition of New Zealand!

It was quite fitting Viola would view this country as the ‘undiscovered’ beauty that it was to her eyes, as this was a charmingly different perspective than her mother had been allowed. Viola is quick to criticise her mother but I fear that is due to an absence of perspective and understanding. In many ways, Viola has been sheltered from her own origin story and the passages of time her mother had to walk in order to stand on her feet again. This absence of living history for Viola had altered her opinions and in effect, shaped her criticisms about Florence.

As Jack becomes re-introduced into Florence’s life, we time shift backwards to better understand how Jack came to be the guardian of Liam. Herein, this is an interesting segue as we also learn that Berty has become an honourable bloke (at least by appearances) in the years since we knew him. As Florence’s brother, you had hoped he would find maturity at some point – gain traction of a living and perhaps, have a bit of happiness along the way. He was truly a difficult child from that point of view, as he dearly had the Peter Pan syndrome if ever a brother could embrace it! Finding out he had actually married the love of his life and honoured her with his marriage (as they had a child) was an interesting turn of events!

I could understand why Jack took-on a new life – there were events in A Moral Compass which made this a necessity but finding out the young boy we first met as that novel was concluding became his adopted son was quite the unique set of circumstances! They met on the ship and from what you gather now, their bond was set in stone rather than to be a more transient one. This also shows the continuity grace of Servian, as when Florence first walked past Jack’s new General Goods store, she felt the familiarity as only she could and yet, she dismissed it. How could it be what she thought it was when that was a lifetime ago? And, yet, here it is – exactly as she suspected.

Viola has such a sharpened temper – she doesn’t want to see anything outside of herself or to find empathy in the missing pieces of her own story. She is a bit selfish in that regard, even Matilda for all her faults, can see the truth of how Viola’s temper is affecting Florence. She only wants to succeed in a field influenced by Emile; even if that were to become in jeopardy by a past she could not accept, it is Viola who would have a harder lesson of life to learn than Florence once did herself!

Ooh, it is delish finding out the missing history between Florence and Emile at the time they first arrived back in England! I had a feeling her time with Jack would have helped changed her and it truly had! She was taking everyone under her wings – one at a time, finding her path as a philanthropist but also, a compassionate employer. I had wondered how she fared once she was with Emile full-time as the young love they once shared was no more. He expected more of her than she was willing to give – he wanted to change her back to who she was before she was in New Zealand and that was simply fool-hardy to believe plausible!

As Servian angles us backwards towards how Florence continued to live each day forward and away from Jack, we start to see how her experiences with him re-shaped her own path. She found worth and purpose, helping out those who were less fortunate than her but also, it embodied a strength she could pull on to re-fuse herself in the hope of what could be possible for tomorrow. She was a woman who had grieved and let go of so much of her life, I think partially the reason helping others in need was appealling is because it would allow her to find ways to self-heal and repair the hurts of her own past. She was re-focusing on others to first give back to those who had no voice or hope of their own but then, I believe it was their spirit of strength she renewed which gave her a chance to heal.

Florence’s reunion with her brother was fastly unravelling – his inability to speak the truth and to give her the information needed to understand his position is once again commonplace. He did not even have the decency to update her on his martial status and you would have thought, given the growing unrest in the region, it might have been a prerogative to give her a smidge of a warning about what was happening as his family is directly tied to the conflict due to his multicultural marriage. Sadly, it felt like despite the years since they were young arrivals in a new country, Berty fell back on his old hang-ups and never truly found his footing on solid ground.

As the flashbacks continue to tie-in the lost histories involving Florence, Emile and Jack, we start to see where we were in history. Florence was a very open-minded woman – ready to fight for the inherent rights of others and to work for social justice and civil rights. However, Emile was not as open as she was when it came to certain issues or in regards to equality amongst those who had different lifestyles than their own. What is interesting here, is how Servian took this from a critical historical angle and re-spun it to see how Florence would handle these crucial moments of discovery. Servian knits us close to a plot centered on her characters but allowing those characters to react – wherever the truth of their feelings lead them and then, their thoughts, as sometimes first reactions are out of shock but at the heart of whom they are – they start to reveal their truer natures. This was especially brilliant as with any historical novel, to have a writer hug so closely to the revelations of where history is intersecting with society – we gain far more insight into the past than if we were to gloss over those important disclosures.

There were several left turns after these passages – similar to A Moral Compass, I felt some of the circumstances explored were a bit over the top. Especially as the scene involving Viola’s attack, it almost felt like it was used as plot device more than anything else. I couldn’t understand why she and Matilda were stranded there – in a house which had a darkness looming over it such as it were and without the means of exit. This was a part of the plot I struggled with as it just felt like it was more than what was needed to carry the story forward. In many ways, it seemed to even dishonour Viola as she deserved something far better than this to happen to her as despite her stubborn nature, she was a woman of respectable honour.

From here, the novel seemed to dismantle for me. I was much more keenly interested in the second chance romance brewing between Florence and Jack. There was a lot of arduous things happening in the background of this main plotting which started to irk me because it was taking away from the time-line we had established previously. Even Berty’s story continued to worsen rather than strengthen, as I thought for sure after such a long period of time away from his sister, he would have matured.

I realise with dramas of this kind you need conflict, but the kinds of conflict affecting these characters just felt unjustly unfair. Almost like they could never outrun their situations or even improve their lives because something more devastating was about to be inflicted on them. I truly loved certain aspects of this series but as the sequel moved closer to its conclusion, my enjoyment waned. Sometimes I think the plot can become too thickened with angst and it takes out the joys which were built into the ending after the key issues were either resolved or redeemed. I didn’t even understand why some of the worst characters of the first installment had to be re-explored in the sequel as their time in the plot felt unwarranted.

If I had to consider both stories I read thus far in the series, my favourite sections of both are the first halves of each of the stories within A Moral Compass and A Pivotal Right. Mostly as this is where the stories have their best strengths before everything goes downhill and starts to unravel into this altered state where nothing really made much sense to me. The stories at their heart felt like they had such a lot of hope knitted into them and then, such a dark turning eclipsed that hope and left me feeling anxious for the characters I had come to enjoy knowing.

on the historical writing styling of k.a. servian:

What I appreciated the most about how Ms Servian approached writing this series is that it is first and foremost a historically connected set of stories. You can see the history behind the lives been explored – where there are stark differences in class structures and in the livelihoods available to everyone who comes in and out of Florence’s life. The story is generational from the point of perspective that we first must understand how Florence lived her life before we can move into the life of her daughter Viola. This novel feels like it serves as the anchour between where Florence’s chapters resolve and Viola’s begin, as the third novel (which is forthcoming) is entitled: Slaves in Petticoats which picks up Viola’s tale from the conclusion of A Pivotal Right.

The continuity is maintained to a high layer of insight on behalf of Servian, where you can move very easily between A Moral Compass and A Pivotal Right – to the brink, even after another decade slipping through our fingers, we are still very much connected to these characters. The distance does not feel great at all and that is a credit to how Servian approached telling the sequel. She picks up the pace straight at the beginning, where we now find Viola enjoying the past-time of her mother (smiles) which is to journal her journeys. This series is happily stretched between both Epistolary sequences and historical narrative – giving us the best of both worlds.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBTFollow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

A Pivotal Right blog tour via HFVBTs
 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Which dramatic Historical Fiction stories have you read which are similar in scope and one with this one? For me, it had similar circumstances I’ve been enjoying through reading the Emma series – which began with “To Turn Full Circle”. There are a lot of parallels between Emma and Florence – in fact, I think they would have been wonderful friends and confidantes due to how much they shared in regards to life and the pursuit of love.

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2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

This review (The Moral Compass) is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “A Pivotal Right”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of K.A. Servian, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 19 November, 2018 by jorielov in 19th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Diary Accountment of Life, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Feminine Heroism, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, Story in Diary-Style Format, the Victorian era, Vulgarity in Literature, War Drama

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “A Pivotal Right” (Book Two: Shaking the Tree series) by K.A. Servian with recollections and thoughts on behalf of (book one) “A Moral Compass”

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Bruno,

      I really was thankful my library purchased “A Moral Compass” for me as it really heightened my experience of reading these two novels – in fact, I really think I might have preferred the story within “A Moral Compass” slightly more than I did in “A Pivotal Right” – however, I wanted to capture all those thoughts I had as I was reading – thank you for giving me feedback that what I wanted to convey is resonating with you. I love writing reviews which really dig into the heart of the stories and where I can examine my reactions as I read. I love hosting for you travelling through time and history as I do!

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