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.
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.
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:
Published by Self Published
on 15th August, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
Shaking the Tree series:
The Moral Compass (book one)
A Pivotal Right (book two)
Converse via: #ShakingTheTree + #HistFic or #HistNov
Available Formats: Paperback and EbookRead More
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: