14 June 2016

Review: The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Christian Fiction that's Actually Christian

Miss Katherine Ramsey is in London for her first Season, and her aunt and sponsor has high hopes that she’ll make a brilliant marriage. But the longer Kate spends moving in the ‘right’ circles, the more she questions the way things are done—particularly the emphasis on marrying for position rather than affection, let alone marrying for love.

I didn’t like Katherine at first—she seemed stupid and immature, but I suspect that was exactly the point. She was young, and she had led a sheltered life, and she had never had cause to question the standards she’d been raised with. And while we can laugh at the shallowness of society in Edwardian London, we only have to watch a few minutes of ‘reality’ television to see those same standards are alive and well in modern America and other countries.

Jonathan Foster is training to be a doctor so he can return to India, where he was raised as the child of missionaries. But his calling doesn’t seem as clear any more—London is also teeming with sick people too poor to afford a doctor. And London has the beautiful Miss Ramsey, who Jon is attracted to despite her lack of faith.

This highlights one of the things I liked best about The Daughter of Highland Hall: the genuine faith of the Foster family and William Ramsey (Kate’s guardian). You’d think Christian fiction would be full of characters (Christian or not) wrestling with aspects of their faith, but that is rarely the case. The Daughter of Highland Hall is a welcome exception, and while the first half of the story was somewhat slow, the second half more than made up for it, as we watched characters grow in their faith and share it with others. I especially liked this speech from Lydia, Kate’s lady’s maid:
“He knows what happened, and it breaks His heart. But all you need to do is confess it to Him and ask forgiveness. That wipes the slate clean.”

She goes on to talk about how our circumstances don’t necessarily change when we become Christians—we still have the same baggage as before, the same results of our sin—but Jesus will carry that for us. It’s a welcome message of redemption and grace, and while I don’t want to go back to a time when every Christian novel had a preachy come-to-Jesus moment, it’s good to see novels where such scenes flow naturally out of the story.

The Daughter of Highland Hall is the sequel to The Governess of Highland Hall, but can easily be read as a standalone novel (it’s so long since I read the first that I can’t remember any of the details). But there were similarities in both stories: both had a bit of an Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey feel, in that while the main plot was about the gentry, several significant characters were middle or working class.

I enjoyed The Governess of Highland Hall, and I had been apprehensive about reading The Daughter of Highland Hall (which is why it’s taken me so long!). But I was pleased to find this was as good as the first in the series. Now to find the third . . .

Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Carrie Turansky at her website, and you can read the beginning of The Daughter of Highland Hall below:


  1. Hi Iola, so glad you enjoyed The Daughter of Highland Hall. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful review. Book 3, A Refuge at Highland Hall, is Penny's story and takes the family into WW1. The hero is a very brave British pilot. I loved the research for this story! I hope you'll enjoy it too. That's the final book in the Series. Next book: Shine Like the Dawn, which releases February 2017. It's set in Northumberland and has family drama, romance, and a mystery.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Carrie!

      Yes, I'll have to get a copy of A Refuge at Highland Hall, and I'll look out for Shine Like the Dawn.

    2. I just recently reviewed this. I have the Kindle Edition and the paperback, but yes, I cheated and listened to the audiobook. Personally, I did not enjoy it as much as the first book. Maybe it was the guessing very early on who Katherine would marrry- or that I did not like the way her Aunt was vilified simply for wanting to keep a promise to her sister, and find a good match for her niece.

    3. I rarely listen to audiobooks - I find they slow the story down (because I'm a fast reader, as I suspect you are). I also find the narrator can make or break the book.

  2. I agree with what you are saying about some of the common aspects of Christian Fiction though. I often roll my eyes at the old Christian/non-believer/irreverant skeptic who has lost thier faith formula. Especially when it does not suit the historical setting.

  3. I enjoyed reading your review, Iola. While I don't read much of historical fiction, I love reading books with the message of redemption and grace, especially when done as beautifully as in this book.

    1. Yes, Carrie Turansky did a great job on the message of redemption - which can be hard to do well. Thanks for visiting!