Toward the Horizon

This is a wonderful story of dreams and possibilities in the new world.
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Jeanne MacGregor Lahn is a master at portraying why death is often the price for hope in her gripping first historical novel, Toward the Horizon. Her intriguing and unpredictable characters come together in surprising and uplifting ways. The emotional complexities of families and newly found friends move from distrust to understanding and then from trust to respect and love. The narrative captures the vividness of the days, the speech and feelings of the eighteenth century Scottish people. This is an unforgettable story of desperate, but determined families with numerous children, couples, single men and women crowded together in the dark, damp hold of an actual dilapidated Dutch cargo ship named Hector. In the summer of 1773, these courageous people leave extreme poverty and social injustice, brought on by the British government, to find hope, justice, freedom and a better life in North America. They were one of the first immigrant groups from Western Europe to settle in Nova Scotia and beyond. The journey is dominated by three family groups, which give the story a rich cast of characters: The poor tenant fanners from Loch Katrine, Mary and James McDonald and their six children, long for land of their own. Mary recently took in orphaned infant twins, whom she nurses along with her baby, Alasdair. Hugh McLeod, a widower, fisherman and ex-soldier, who lost a son to the stormy North Sea, has an impoverished extended family, from Ullapool on Loch Broom, to support. He has heard tales of how the rivers and lakes in North America are crowded with fish. Mrs. Mary Forbes and her daughter, Jane, from Blantyre, have the only cabin accommodations aboard the old sailing vessel. Jane is on her way to Nova Scotia for an arranged marriage. She befriends the young cabin boy, Nate, son of the mean, stone-hearted Captain Spiers. The lives of all of the people crossing the Atlantic aboard the Hector are marked by unforeseen hardships: anger, smallpox, dysentery, birth, death, grief, starvation, and depression, but always their thoughts are overlaid by the strength of great expectations and dreams for a happier, more plentiful life for themselves and their children. - Anna Lee Waldo, author of Sacajawea, Prairie, Circle of Stones, Circle of Stars

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