Whirlpool contains a romance book wrapped up in a woman vs nature plot. It features interesting side characters and some of the turmoil and unrest that led to the women’s movement in the 1920’s. I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks, but the ones here are handled very well. Thus, they add layers to the story without detracting from what’s going on in the “present.”
It’s the first half of the 1920’s and the women’s movement pins its hopes and dreams on a silly woman named Evangeline Murray who wants to be rich and famous. Her plan: go over Niagra Falls in a barrel. She’s not in it alone. She’s helped by two of the movers and shakers of the women’s movement along with a Canadian woman and the lady’s grumpy brother.
- The characters are realistic, but sometimes irksome. (They’re not perfect.) Many attributes get represented here: selfishness, greed, lack of scruples, shallowness, bravery, and heroism.
- I found several of the plot-points very satisfying, but I can’t elaborate without spoilers.
- The romance thread comes across as intriguing and sometimes annoying due to cryptic messages. Everything works out in the end, but it’s a longer journey than it needs to be. It was almost a comedy of errors, which I think will make some people like it more.
- I especially enjoyed Maddie’s flashback to the war. The flashbacks in general were very well handled and seamlessly woven into the narrative.
- My favorite character was Danny most of the time, but there one a moment or two even he needed a good smack. I think it reminded me of the silly antics some of my students pull. Therefore, I don’t think that moment will bother anybody else.
- I wish I liked Evangeline’s sons more. In the beginning, they’re cads, and there’s not much change by the end.
- The narrator did a nice job.
- There’s a decent story here. Tags would make following the narration easier.
- The river scene at the end was well done, and the descriptions of the Niagara River’s raw power are wonderful.
- Content Warnings: occasional curse word and off screen sex
Whirlpool is a surprisingly simple story (a woman wants to ride the Falls in a barrel) made complex by the multitude of human interactions and stored up emotions (Josh vs river, Evangeline vs her benefactors, her benefactors vs those who would stop her, etc). If you enjoy historical romance, this is a work you’ll want to check out.
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Julie C. Gilbert
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