Sunday, May 9, 2021

In a Far-Off Land by Stephanie Landsem

Book cover
In a Far-Off Land
by Stephanie Landsem

ISBN-13: 9781496450425
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: May 4th 2021

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don't pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she's caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she's about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she wakes up next to a dead film star and is on the run for a murder she didn't commit.

Only two unwilling men--Oscar, a Mexican gardener in danger of deportation, and Max, a too-handsome agent battling his own demons--can help Mina escape corrupt police on the take and the studio big shots trying to frame her. But even her quick thinking and grit can't protect her from herself. Alone, penniless, and carrying a shameful secret, Mina faces the consequences of the heartbreaking choices that brought her to ruin . . . and just might bring her back to where she belongs.

My Review:
In a Far-Off Land is a historical romance set in 1931 in America. It's loosely based on the lost/prodigal son parable in the Bible. It's not a mystery/suspense novel. While the story started with Mina waking up next to a murdered man, the story became a series of flashbacks. Much of the story was people thinking about or discussing or the characters telling the reader about the events that led up to that day. Very little action happened in the "current day" for about 75% of the book. Then a couple of characters discovered critical clues, quickly solved whodunit, and figured out what to do about it. The remaining story was about healing broken relationships.

While I enjoy historical fiction, I'm not really interested in detailed descriptions of every single piece of clothing that the characters wore beyond the initial setup of their style. Same for the detailed descriptions of the restaurants, houses, etc. So the pacing felt a little slow to me. I liked that the author included the relationship tensions created by the prejudice against Mexicans and the bastard status of Max. Anyway, the story was a depressing litany of how these realistic and complex characters made bad decision after bad decision, leading to sad and tragic outcomes. Mina was a thief, prostitute, liar, and selfish, but she came across as a sympathetic character even though I didn't relate to her situation or choices.

At the end, Mina received the profound mercy and grace of a father's unconditional love. This helped her to understand God's unconditional love when she felt like God had no time for the likes of her. There was no bad language. There were veiled references to sex (no detailed sex scenes). Overall, I'd recommend this story as long as you realize it's a slow, relational novel that shows God's love for the undeserving. It excelled at that.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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