Summer is the time most of us look forward to tucking a few good fiction books into our beach bag or suitcase to enjoy while relaxing for a bit whether at home or a destination. As the economy gets more difficult to navigate, a book can take us on an adventure that costs little (even less if we borrow the book from the library or get it digitally online).
If you’re a fiction lover, you likely have Francine Rivers as an author you know that will invite you into a good story and her latest book, The Lady’s Mine, is no exception. The setting of the story is California in 1875 when men from farther east were lured to pack their things and head West to look for gold. Few had any idea of what they would find or what they would experience in the unruly (often unsafe) mining towns that sprang up.
The Lady’s Mine introduces you to a young woman from Boston, Kathryn Walsh, whose stepfather, and mother want to be rid of her. When news reaches them that Kathryn has inherited a mine in CA, that gives them the opportunity to get her out of their wealthy home and on her way to an unknown future. This Irish redhead is not your typical female, however. She has a mind of her own and a voice she often uses to support women’s suffrage and other causes. Unlike most women arriving in mining towns, she has no interest in marriage or any of the not so lovely trades women pursue to survive the rough and tumble mining towns.
Her arrival via stagecoach sets the town of Calvada buzzing with more than a few men seeing a woman unlike any who has come into the town, and they nearly stumble over each other to try to get a chance to have her consider them as a husband. But Kathryn isn’t interested despite finding little information about the mine and only a small unkempt little house left to her by the uncle she had never met.
One of the most curious things about the little house is the discovery of a printing press tucked into one corner with the handle missing and learning her uncle had been murdered by someone using that handle to bash in his skull.
One of the prominent men in town is Mathias Beck who was a friend of her late uncle, and he is eager to encourage her to stay at his saloon and hotel that offers much more comfortable lodging, but Kathryn isn’t the least bit interested and despite the mud and sewage strewn streets, loud dance halls, and lack of any law and order, she sets about cleaning up the little house left to her. She is determined to find out what happened to her uncle (City) and why the mine was still open but hadn’t been actively worked for quite some time. Beyond that, she needs to determine how she will make a living in Calvada without skills to use in that effort.
Kathryn’s distaste for Mathias Beck will be heightened by her determination to prove she (as a woman) can manage her own affairs quite nicely without realizing how many in the mining town may be far less safe than Mathias Beck.
Kathryn’s strong sense of right and wrong and justice makes an impression on nearly everyone and a key reward in reading this book is seeing how one person can make a difference in a community despite the odds against her. Kathryn’s fearless determination and stubbornness are qualities that both help and hurt her as the story unfolds.
Be prepared for more than a few surprises in this book as well as an easy page-turning read to brighten any summer day.
The theme of this book had been simmering in Francine Rivers thoughts for some time but when the pandemic hit and her schedules were upended and canceled due to lockdowns and sheltering in place, it seemed like the perfect time to write this story. Most of us were eager for a good story about someone who made a difference and took us to a good ending. The Lady’s Mine checks all the boxes for a great summer read.