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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sarah Quanli by Jackson Keene

Sarah Quanli by Jackson Keene
Publisher: Treble Heart Books
Genre: historical
Length: Full (329 pgs)
Heat level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Review by Snapdragon
The beautiful yet deceitful Rossalyn McDonald had twisted the knife deep in David Adam MacDougall’s big heart. He was extraordinarily handsome: chiseled muscles, kindly soul, thoughtful personality, and totally faithful. Any other lass in his Scottish Highlands village would have cheated her own sister to become his bride.

Now David’s entire being felt broken. He felt into a thousand pieces. Now he only wanted to reach the faraway city of Beiping China where he was called to be a missionary. But before arriving in that mysterious mistress of the orient, he would face uncertain dangers.

The year is 1904. The bloody Boxer Rebellion is only four years past. Much of northern China still seethes with undercurrents of resentment and hatred of all things Western. If David can just make it to the ancient city with body and soul intact, if he can just survive, there he’ll find his new purpose, his new home, and his new people.

There, he’ll meet the woman he comes to believe is the love of his life. The lithe, athletic, saucy, highly intelligent and equally independent Xiu Li!

As a basketball fan, the new novel ‘Sarah Quanli’ seemed promising on so many levels: billed as ‘A Story of Betrayal, Death, Love. And Basketball.” With that in mind, the story set off unexpectedly: from an unanticipated time, and chased by an entirely unpredictable plot. The story line is the absolute best part of ‘Sarah Quanli.’ However, the writing style is frustrating; at times long-winded, at other times, just plain confusing.

Big hearted and broken-hearted, David Adam MacDougall sets off to become a missionary in Beiping, Northern China, in 1904. He leaves behind a full life: both friends and family, and the woman he so loved. His good friends are well established –as are his own religious beliefs, inherent athleticism, and sense of fair play. There are many instances when we see how his inner strength carries him through adversity. Yet, his love for Rossalyn sets him at odds with a cousin, then others. David, miserable, will eventually set off across the sea…It is merely the beginnings of his adventure. Bandits and ruffians await, new friendships and challenges, as does, perhaps, another chance at love. Throughout it all, he clings strongly to his Christian beliefs.

Although I had a preconceived (and completely wrong) idea about what to expect, derived from “basketball’’ in the description, I was not disappointed at all in this very different-than-anticipated story. Mr. Keene’s vision is plainly original and the story itself is unpredictable and engaging. Yet, the writing style or editorial choices often interrupt the tale’s flow.

The quality of the storyline deserved far better than a 3 star rating – but the challenge in reading this brought down the score. Still, for a thoroughly original story, do read ‘Sarah Quanli.’