An #HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Dark Horizon” (The Linford Saga, Book One) by Liz Harris – a beloved author begins a new intergenerational series set in the early 20th Century!

Posted Monday, 6 July, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was previously a regular reviewer and blog tour hostess for ChocLitUK which is where my path originally crossed with Ms Harris. It was through reading and reviewing their novels I came across the Historical stories of Liz Harris and simply fell in love. Two of my favourites are “A Bargain Struck” (see also Review) and “The Road Back” (see also Review). In the years since I’ve been keeping in touch with the authors I enjoyed reading – whilst I was overjoyed finding out there was a new release by Ms Harris for 2020 – as the last time I read one of her novels was in 2017! I love her passion for Historical narratives and the ways in which she creates the rhythm of her stories set in the historic past. This is the start of a new series and I was thankful to be able to host her for #SatBookChat (@SatBookChat) as well as read the novel in order to share my reflections and ruminations with my readers.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Dark Horizon” from Liz Harris in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I wanted to read “The Dark Horizon” & host Ms Harris on #SatBookChat:

One of the authors I felt blessed to have discovered during my years of reading and reviewing ChocLit was Liz Harris. She has such a wonderful capacity for writing a Historical drama and it wasn’t a surprise to have learnt she is now writing a Historical Saga which intergenerationally explores the Linford family through the early 20th Century.

I knew quite immediately I wanted to read this story and to host her during @SatBookChat during its release window because of how strongly I feel attached within the scope her stories. She has a wonderful way of presenting different opinions, perspectives and in regards to internal strife within the scope of a family – she owns that niche well in Historical Fiction (especially in relation to how I felt throughout The Road Back.

She writes her heart out, and I will always appreciate that style, as it mirrors my own. I even appreciate the fact that she can move and shift through locations, time sequences, and elements of distinction between where her characters and story are set alive. She has the ability to become a chameleon as she writes one story to the next. This is a quality that is appreciated because she gives us such an intense view of her worlds and characters, with a pulse on who they are and how they lived that each story becomes an experience your willingly thankful to have had afterwards. -quoted from my review of The Road Back

I have been following the careers of all the ChocLit authors I originally read as a reviewer for the publisher – as whenever you find authors who are able to write a story you can settle inside and find joy about residing in throughout the journey of the story itself is an author you want to keep in your readerly life.

The #SatBookChat wherein I featured Ms Harris and my review for The Dark Horizon continues to be my personal path back into their stories – finding where they are currently being published and continuing my pursuit of the stories I am wicked happy to be championing either directly on Jorie Loves A Story and/or my social feeds in the twitterverse. It is an honour to continue to engage with them and to tuck closer to their stories when I have the proper chance to read them. I was truly grateful I could celebrate this new series with Ms Harris and bring the announcement of it to my readers – many of whom are Historical Fiction buffs like I am and who love a wicked good #nextread in a genre we’re mutually passionate about exploring! 

Having Ms Harris as a guest on @SatBookChat is a true treat for me as a hostess – as she’s been dedicated to writing these past several years and hasn’t had a lot of free time to chat or participate in #SatBookChat – I was overjoyed we could book her the last Saturday in May – as it is within hours of the closing celebrations for the Fantasy event I co-host annually (#WyrdAndWonder). As May folded into June, I had planned to celebrate re-starting my pursuit of reading stories befitting my own readerly challenge #MyYASummer as well as sorting out which stories I want to read for #PrideMonth and taking a keen step forward in erasing my backlogue of reviews for the second half of the year. A good chunk of my backlogue quite ironically (or is it?) are Historical Fiction narratives, too! Due to health afflictions with seasonal allergies and toxic air pollution which required the need to purchase indoor air purifiers – I had to re-direct my reading goals to where I was not able to participate in #PrideMonth or #AudiobookMonth this June.

This felt like the best way to close out Wyrd And Wonder (and by extension ‘May’) whilst opening the window into Summer (and by extension my #SummerReads and goals) – the conversation and the discussion which would flow into #SatBookChat was a wicked sweet moment of personal joy, too. As I love connecting readers with authors and if it is a #newtomeauthor for them, I’ve passed forward the joy of what I’ve discovered myself to encourage another reader to find what I did and hopefully walk away with the positive reactions to the story itself.

It might have taken me a bit of extra time to finish reading The Dark Horizon as I had two migraines in mid-June and a series of migraines clustered at the end of June leading into July – but I am wicked thankful the first review to be featured for #SatBookChat this July will be a saga writ by one of my favourite Historical Fiction authors who has such a clear voice in the niches she occupies to allow us the grace to follow in her stead to the historic past.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

On my Connection to Ms. Harris:

I have been hosting #SatBookChat chats on a regular basis for six years now. Eleven in the morning of a Saturday, has become a favourite hour for me to exchange conversation and joy with everyone who shows up to participate in a chat centered around Romance, Women’s Fiction and new for 2020 – Feminist Lit and strong female characters across genres of interest.

Similar to my previous thoughts I shared about Ms. Courtenay, I have come to appreciate chatting with Ms. Harris, either through #SatBookChat chats or privately. She is most giving of her time and I have appreciated the opportunity to know the writer behind the stories I enjoy reading! She always shares her happy spirit in the chats too, and her insights into why she enjoys writing the books that speak to her the most.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with Harris through our respective love & passion of reading inside the twitterverse whilst I host #SatBookChat (or as it was previously known #ChocLitSaturday) the chat as well as privately; I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. Similarly this applies to spotlighting new books by an author I appreciate such as this one.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

An #HistoricalMondays Book Review | “The Dark Horizon” (The Linford Saga, Book One) by Liz Harris – a beloved author begins a new intergenerational series set in the early 20th Century!The Dark Horizon
Subtitle: Secrets, schemes and deceit simmer beneath the surface, but love, loyalty and passion are no strangers
by Liz Harris, Ms Liz Harris
Source: Direct from Author

From the award-winning author of The Road Back comes the first in a sweeping saga set between the wars, which introduces the Linfords, a family simmering with secrets, schemes and lies.

Oxfordshire, 1919

The instant that Lily Brown and Robert Linford set eyes on each other, they fall in love. The instant that Robert’s father, Joseph, chairman of the family’s successful building company, sets eyes on Lily, he feels a deep distrust of her.

Convinced that his new daughter-in-law is a gold-digger, and that Robert’s feelings are a youthful infatuation he’d come to regret, Joseph resolves to do whatever it takes to rid his family of Lily.

As the young couple are torn apart, the Linford family is told a lie that will have devastating consequences for years to come.

The Dark Horizon is perfect for readers of The Thorn Birds
and the Cazalet Chronicles, and the novels of Fiona Valpy and Santa Montefiore.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Modern British Literature, Realistic Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1913687007

Also by this author: A Bargain Struck, Guest Post (A Western Heart) by Liz Harris, Guest Post (The Road Back) by Liz Harris, The Road Back, Book Spotlight w/ Notes (The Lost Girl), Evie Undercover, Guest Post (The Lost Girl) by Liz Harris, The Art of Deception, The Lost Girl

Published by Heywood Press

on 14th April, 2020

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 346

Published by: Heywood Press

Formats Available: Paperback & Ebook

Genre(s): Historical Fiction | Family Saga | World War era

Converse via: #LinfordSaga, #TheDarkHorizon and #LizHarris
as well as #HistRom, #HistFic, #HistoricalFiction

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

The honour & duty of family:

The voice you first hear as you’re starting to read The Dark Horizon is the one person who can paint such a darker portrait of this family’s life and their obligations to each other. It is Robert’s father (Joseph) who feels he’s in the best position to judge what is right for the Linford family and how he personally appreciates keeping everything within the scope of the family neat and tidy. Meaning he brokers no fools, maintains no surprises and doesn’t want anything to come round to affect the course of the family’s securities. In essence, he views any interloper (as he sees them) to be a potential harm to the family and their assets – which as you observe his thought processes at a funeral for his son’s grandfather – you can articulate where he is psychologically and emotionally.

The part where I felt so infuriatingly angry with Joseph is when he took his scheming mind and contorted the opinion Charles had himself about Robert and Lily to his own way of thinking! This father simply cannot deal with his own disappointments in life and must find a way to muck round with other people’s lives just to ensure he feels better about himself – or at least, that is what is starting to appear to be from this vantage point. It is almost as if it is inconceivable to Joseph anyone should choose to marry for love and for the true boost of joy of keeping company with the person who completes them. Oy vie. The more I learn about Joseph the more vile he becomes and of course, there are plenty who feel as he would during this time in history – how it is a father’s right to protect either daughter or son if they are an affluent family; but when does that influence of theirs cross the line of what is morally unethical?

From the moment Joseph asserted himself as being obligated in this instance to Charles (as he confided in him) as if he owes this selfless duty to his son Robert, I truly lost the words to describe how I was feeling about his ‘great plan’ to save his son. There is duty and honour in families but not when you twist your logic of said duty and honour into a methodology of controlling the lives of your relations to the brink where their own free will becomes tainted and compromised by your own ideology of right and wrong; blurred by prejudicial anger towards others whom are different from you.

my review of the dark horizon:

Robert had the kind of grandfather you love to find within a family like his – a supportive voice of reason with an encouraging passion for youth, true love and the bounties of what life can bring once you find your path. His grandfather did not pass judgement on him or his future wife – something which cannot be said of his own father and thereby, this is the main wedge of angst in the Linford family. The grandfather saw a reasonable path forward into the future – rather than takeaway the joy of a young family just sprouting wings to go through their lives together, he choose to encourage them; to help them feel supported and loved. A lot can be said about life in the opening bridge of The Dark Horizon – as too many families pass quick judgments against their children who marry young and decide to wed the woman (or man) they feel are their match.

Robert’s father (Joseph) is old school – the kind of schooled thought where marriage has to be approved by the family and if you go against the grain there are consequences thereafter. Your heart bleeds for Robert as the story begins to unfold – he’s found the woman he wants to spend his life with and all his father can see is someone he feels is inferior to his son. How many times does this happen? How many families are wedged apart due to prejudice and ignorance? Harris handles these interactions well – she presents them with the full view of the murky and muddling circumstances which pit father against son and show how mercy and kindness of a grandfather can boost a man’s resolve even in the middle of a family’s storm.

One of the more interesting details in the background are the building and housing developments outside of London proper – where the new houses are going to follow the interstates leading out of the city. I found this keenly fascinating as I have long since been curious about city developments and city planning practices not to mention it is such a curious thing to set into mind about how a city originally developed – was it all just a large random accident how things became set and organised or was there more thought behind it? In this story, as we overhear Robert talking to Lily about how the family company is positioned to redirect themselves off tenant living and into the house buyers market, it felt like we were hearing whispers about how our present world was first emerging into neighbourhoods and bedroom communities outside larger cities where suburbs have flourished. The housing market has a stronghold in the overall arc of the saga’s development due to the business of the Linford family – of which, I felt Harris brought to surface quite organically as she co-developed the heartache, the angst and the anguish of the saga’s boiling drama behind their business affairs.

The reverie Lily tucks herself into during a moonlit night of introspection was a beautiful way to allow us to travel back into her past, see how she was raised and to feel the sense of pride in how she’s carried herself through difficult transitions in her young life whilst bettering herself for the future. As you walk back through her childhood, you see how the kind influence of an Auntie who took her in when your Mum couldn’t care for her gave her the best foundation she could have had as a young girl whilst its her fortitude to remain open to opportunities which led her to the Women’s Land Army and eventually that twist in fate allowed her to meet her husband. It proves that despite not understanding the direction of our lives, there is a plan towards a future we cannot yet perceive and must be willing to believe is plausible.

The heart wrenching moment for me was seeing how much anguish Joseph was causing Lily – how he was blinded in his prejudice against her to see the joy she gave to his son, Robert. His hatred of anyone who was beneath them in status was affecting how she viewed herself and I gathered had become a worry about how she might have felt Robert might soon view her as well. Joseph had a very narrow impression about the world and the more time you spent ruminating about how Robert and Lily first met, fell in love and planned to tackle life together, the more you can see how cunning and conniving Joseph could become in his attempts to thwart their love and their union. You had to wonder about what would sour a man to this degree of prejudice without having any foundation for it as he clouded his heart towards Lily.

The flow of this story is hinged to each character’s POV – wherein you first are greeted by the perspective Lily had on her life leading into her marriage with Robert, whilst at the same time Robert is reflecting on their courtship before Joseph comes back round to explain his feelings of ill will towards Lily and the marriage he felt never should have been allowed. The toxicity you see in the passages where Joseph is thinking through his emotions about Robert’s choices in life truly paint the picture bleak for Lily because if someone can become this convinced that their son erred in the wrong when it comes to choosing a wife – you had to question their motives and their intentions especially if they were seeking to do something disruptive. I never trusted Joseph from the first scene he was featured because of how well Harris wrote him to be this vexing character who just continuously rubs you the wrong way as you read the story.

The duality of perspectives in the novel is what fuells the emotional reactions as you’re reading – as you first learn everything from one side of reason (per character) before you exchange it for the next; sometimes what you felt in the first revelation gave you one kind of feeling whereas the second might yield a different layer of insight you hadn’t foreseen in the first. These dual shifts in perspective I believe are hard to write as an author because you have to hone in on what is most important to be seen in each of those moments – what the root of the matter is in other words and what is truly driving the wedge in this Linford family to where all bets are off on a happier ever after for Robert and Lily; at least whilst Joseph is left to scheme and plan their undoing. That’s what affected my heart as I read their story – how a father-in-law can feel he is owed this chance to reset his son’s life even without any indication that that is what the son wants for himself.

I loved Alice on sight – she had a difficult path to walk with Thomas – a man returnt from war but with the horrors of the war still intact (ie. PTSD) and the injuries to prove just how much war can take from a man. Alice by comparison had the heart of a nurse and the patience of a saint when trying to shift round the moods Thomas put her through on a daily basis. Despite the hardship of their lives, Alice saw the good in people and when you saw why she wanted to befriend Lily, your heart warmed towards her and wanted to give her an immediate hug!

And, her husband Thomas won me over when he reached out to Lily – how sad and broken my heart felt that this conversation he gave her would be one of the last happier memories she’d have of the Linford family. I felt so dearly gutted by the actions Joseph took against her but moreso than that, it was that he had others influencing his choices and that made it doubly worse in my opinion because someone outside the family yielded to his way of thinking rather than attempting to talk him out of it. Charles to me was the worst of men – he lacked his own courage to stand on his own voice and do something other than just obey orders. Truly it was one of the more gutting chapters I’ve read recently because of how hopeless the whole situation felt. A credit to Harris who put us so viscerally into Lily’s shoes as if to become her in that one moment of duress and despair.

My heart was rallying behind Robert and Thomas; the latter of whom took me by surprise because when everything was revealled he was one of the persons I hadn’t still formed an opinion about as he’s such a complicated character. Yet, he speaks the truth whenever he’s round and he has a different kind of understanding about life and the family at large. In many respects, it is interesting how Thomas presents the truth and the hidden warts of secrets within his family – he says the things no one else wants to talk about and he says it with a vulnerability of knowing no one would take him very seriously. I felt he had just as hard of a road to walk as Lily because of how out of sync they were with the Linford’s.

My heart nearly didn’t repair itself until the final chapter of The Dark Horizon. I had forgotten how deeply emotional sagas are to read and how intricate they can become entangled into themselves. The fortitude Lily had within her spirit and soul in New York was forged years earlier when she was with Auntie Muriel – the kind lady who taught her a skill which would do her well throughout her life. Those years in New York were a reminder to me as a reader about the shirtwaist industry which I learnt first hand in the novel Rivington Street; a story which gutted me start to finish and ended in tears.

The Dark Horizon is similar in nature to that novel – there is an oppressively dark undertone to the story about how the deeds of a few can unjustly sacrifice a person’s life. Lily is a woman who is a force of nature – from how she had to fortify herself against the odds stacked on her shoulders – both in England and in New York and how she never gave up the hope of resolution to her circumstances is what emboldened her courage for me. Lily had an ardent faith about her son, James and about the love she had for Robert – both of those convictions are what provided the courage for her weather worn soul in a saga which elicits the truth about how secrecy in a family can provide the consequences in the future.

On the historical writing style of ms harris:

I love how Harris opens her stories – it is where you can root out the most about what is ‘coming next’ in the storyline because of how she builds this slow burn of drama, personal angst and familial adversities. She takes her time to introduce us to her lead and supporting characters – giving them the fuller chance to make an impression on us as we’re being guided into their lives in a way which feels like a very organic presentation of how their lives developed and how their paths started to wind themselves together in this family saga.

One thing I enjoy about sagas of this nature is how you get to see the fullness of their histories – you get to understand whom they were before you know them in the present timeline of the story but also you get to see whom they’ve become in the future as well. Sagas allow you the grace to stay concurrent inside the events of a family as time shifts forward and lives eventually evolve through circumstances and different adversities which affect them. It is within those stories we learn the most about ourselves and the sociological effect of how society can judge those who are living a life outside of conventional standards; such as how Ms Harris has shown through her character Lily.

What I enjoyed most about how Harris wrote her story is how she threaded the story straight through the heart of Lily. Lily is one of those characters you want to see succeed and you want to see her have a reason to have this faith-driven hope about herself and her future. You cannot put this book down for long lapses though – the story itself is set at a pace where you must continue turning the pages because of what each new chapter eludes and how each step closer you become to the ending – the more you realise there is much more to be understood about the Linford family.

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This book review is courtesy of: Liz Harris

About Ms Liz Harris

Liz Harris

Liz’s first six novels were published by Choc Lit. The Road Back was the US Coffee Time and Romance Book of the Year, A Bargain Struck was RoNA-shortlisted for Best Historical Novel, and The Lost Girl, Evie Undercover, The Art of Deception and A Western Heart were shortlisted by the Festival of Romantic Fiction in their respective categories. Liz’s latest historical novel, The Dark Horizon, the first of The Linford Series, which is set between the wars, was released in May 2020.

Liz is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and also of the Historical Novel Society. She regularly gives talks and workshops at conferences, and is an approved speaker for organisations such as the WI and U3A.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

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Be sure to re-visit the convo we shared about this novel.

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Reading this story contributed to my readerly goals:

2020 HistFic Reading Challenge banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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#SatBookChat Reviews 2020 banner created by Jorie in Canva.

For quite a long while now I’ve fallen behind on releasing my reviews for the #SatBookChat featured guest authors of whom I happily chatted with them about their stories. I simply fell behind one week and it snowballed. I’m spending Summer 2020 getting current with my #SatBookChat guests & eagerly will begin featuring their stories. This marks the first group of authors I am focusing on and will be sharing my ruminative thoughts about their novels whilst I am archiving and updating the transcripts for #SatBookChat from 2018 to 2020.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

{SOURCES: Cover art of  “The Dark Horizon”, Author Biography, Author Photography of Liz Harris and Book Synopsis were provided by the author Liz Harris and were used by permission. The bean post dividers were from the Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #HistoricalMondays banner, #HistFic Reading Challenge badge, #SatBookChat Liz Harris banner, #SatBookChat Reviews banner and the comment box banner.

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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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, 6 July, 2020 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 20th Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Intergenerational Saga, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Realistic Fiction, Taboo Relationships & Romance, the Nineteen Hundreds, the Roaring Twenties, Women's Land Army (Land Girls) Britain

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