Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans–but was that the truth?
After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans’ home before Laura is notified about her family’s unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.
Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?
Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”.
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Goodreads Rating: 4.47 Stars
Suggested Drink Pairings:
Tea: English Black Tea
Coffee: Black Coffee w/Cream & Sugar
Why I Chose This Book:
I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. This was already on my TBR so I was excited to receive a copy!
First Initial Thoughts
The story begins with Katie, her mother, brother Garth, and sister Grace all living together in London. Their mother becomes severely ill and needs to be sent to the hospital. Soon afterward due to certain circumstances the children are sent to the children’s home when they were found living alone.
At the children’s home Katie tries to reach out to her mother but the Matron did not allow it. Laura their sister soon finds out about the situation with her mother and siblings. She is currently a lady’s maid at The Bolton home in St. Albans. She heads off to London to rectify the situation and bring everyone home. However, it does not go according to plan. Soon the children are sent off to Canada thinking their mother has died and their sister abandoning them.
Andrew Fraser is a young man and heir to The Bolton home. He is a lawyer and working with Henry Dowd. Andrew and Laura’s paths cross when Laura obtains a position at a children’s home to obtain information about her sister’s and brother. I liked Andrew. I found him to be charming from the start but not over the top. He was very devoted to the Lord and it showed.
From the countryside of England to London to the remote areas of Canada, this story visits a lot of places! I really liked that this story included so many different settings as it keeps the reader interested.
A part of the book was set on a ship and it reminded me of Titanic in so many ways - except the sinking part. ^_^
I really liked Laura in this story. She was so devoted to her family and helping them come home. I couldn’t believe the lengths she went to to help her family come home. I found it to be inspiring and moving. I also really liked her with Andrew. I thought they fit well together. They both had the same interests and goals in life.
This story really has an important message on child emigration. It is also interesting to see how far we have come from what it use to be like. I had no idea that children could be taken out of the home without the mother’s knowledge and sent to a children’s home for adoption. It was also sad to read that so many children were sent to homes that neglected and abused the children. This of course does still happen today but not nearly as often as it did back in the day.
I also found that this story is similar to what is happening today at the US border. Children are being taken away from their family and I feel this story emphasizes how important family is.
The story does kind of just end however. Though this is a brand new series by Carrie and there will be more books to come with the McAlister family!
Would I Recommend?
Yes! Fans of Carrie’s books will absolutely love adding this one to your collection.
Q&A With Carrie Turansky
The book is inspired by true events surrounding the British Home Children phenomenon. Can you tell us more about that and what drew you to write about it?
Between the years 1869 and 1939 more than 100,000 poor and orphaned British children were taken off the streets, from workhouses, and from families in crisis and emigrated to Canada to start new lives. They were sent there to work and increase the population. Some were well treated, but many of them suffered neglect, abuse, and rejection because of prejudice against orphans and those with questionable family backgrounds. Many Canadians believed the sins of the parents were somehow transferred to the children and they were “polluting” the community where they were sent. When I read about this heartbreaking chapter of British and Canadian history, I knew I wanted to write a story to shed light on what happened to British Home Children and honor their memory.
Which scene in the book did you most enjoy writing and/or researching? Which one was the most difficult?
One scene I especially enjoyed researching and writing was the first-class dinner scene when Laura is on her voyage across the Atlantic. I found the menu that was served on the Titanic and used some of those dishes. I also used the description of the Titanic dining room. One of the most challenging scenes to write is tennis game scene when Andrew and his mentor Henry are discussing the background of child emigration. I wanted the scene to sound natural and not come across as an information dump, but I thought two lawyers might have a discussion like that, and it would help readers understand the history of British Home Children in a natural way.
Which character in the book do you most resonate with?
I identify the most with Laura, the older sister who is determined to do whatever it takes to find her siblings and reunite her family. She faces some very difficult choices, and sometimes she takes things into her own hands and then later regrets it. She learns how important it is to trust God and follow Him where He leads rather than rushing ahead and making impulsive decisions.
What do you hope readers take away from No Ocean Too Wide?
I hope readers will think about the needs of orphaned and abandoned children and families in crisis and want to do what they can to help them. Perhaps they’ll want to become foster or adoptive parents, or reach out to help a family in crisis by providing short-term or long-term help. Several years ago we became foster parents and eventually adopted our two youngest daughters, and they have been a great blessing in our family. We also shared our home with two families in crisis, and we were stretched and blessed in those experiences. When we put our faith in action to help those in need God’s love shines through and that can have an impact on many.
I hope you enjoyed the Q&A and learning more about Carrie’s new book!
You can purchase the book —> HERE
Please Note: I was sent an ARC copy of this book from the publisher to review. All opinions are my own.