The year is 1923 and the jazz age is in full swing. Evangeline Murray, a young widow from Ohio, is recruited by the Women’s Freedom Movement to represent the spirit of modern womanhood by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Evangeline eagerly embraces her opportunity to achieve fame and fortune, until she sees the power of the River and begins to understand the risk she is taking. Joshua McClaren, an enigmatic battle-scarred veteran of World War I, and the best boatman on the river, reluctantly agrees to launch the headstrong Evangeline. Joshua has seen hundreds of bodies surface in the Whirlpool below the Falls, and has faced death on the battlefields of Flanders and has no respect for the charming, impetuous Mrs. Murray, and her desire for fame. Before the barrel can be launched, each of them will have to face their own demons, painful secrets will be revealed and the Niagara Rivers will claim two more lives. Inspired by true stories of the Falls, Whirlpool is a romance, an adventure, and the closest that most of us will ever come to taking the fateful plunge over the Falls.Whirlpool is a fiction that is based on reality. Seven people have tried to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Four have succeeded and three have died. The first person to make the attempt was Annie Taylor, a middle aged school teacher from Michigan who made a successful journey in 1901. Barrel riding at Niagara Falls is now forbidden by law, but at the beginning of the 20th century Niagara was a haven for daredevils of all types, and many of their exploits are included in the novel.
This is possibly one of the easiest-to-read books I have read in a long time. There was never a dull moment, and I never found myself bored. This was historical fiction at its best with a little romance and intrigue on the side. I honestly knew very little about Niagara Falls, and I had no idea that so many people had tried (and succeeded) in going over the Falls in a barrel.
First of all, the potential issues in the book are very minor. There are no sex scenes–they are only implied. The profanity is almost nonexistent. There is only one thing that bothers me, but I have to admit it is realistic. There is an unpunished crime, or at least unpunished as far as the law goes. While the result of the crime helps the main character in so many ways, I still have to admit that I would have like to have seen a bit more censure of that character. But then again, the victim of the crime had committed a crime himself. But I still say that two wrongs don’t make a right. But in spite of the moralistic issues I have with this portion of the book, I still feel it deserves the high rating I have given it.While
As to the format of the story, I truly enjoyed the devices the author implemented–and she did them well! She frequently switched point of view and often jumped back and forth between present and past. I never got lost or confused as to what she was telling me, so I would say she has a knack for writing with these devices.
The romance in the book is outstanding. You know I have complained about sappy romances before, but this was not an issue here. The romance was simple but complicated and made perfect sense. While the morals might have been questionable at times, it was neat to see the characters overcome their issues and find true happiness. They both deserved it.
If you are looking for a light historical romance, I think you just might enjoy this book. I have never read a book about Niagara Falls, and very few people write about this time period in history.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is the author of Whirlpool. She is a much traveled writer. Brought up in England and Wales, she has also lived and worked in South Africa and Uganda and now makes her home in Pittsburgh, PA. Her life experiences allow her to use exotic backgrounds for her novels and to understand how an adventure can begin with just one small incident. For ten years she directed a humanitarian mission in East Africa and is also involved in a Ugandan Coffee Farm. Much of her writing reveals not only her great fondness for the British Isles, but also her British sense of humor which still sees the funny side of most situations.
In addition to writing novels, Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is also an accomplished playwright with a number of national awards to her credit. Her novel, Whirlpool, began life as a stage musical playing at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1993 the Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY, proclaimed the summer of 1993 as Whirlpool Theater Days in honor of the production.
The author’s award-winning courtroom drama Titanic to All Ships will open at the Comtra Theater on April 13 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The drama, created under a Fellowship Grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a dramatic re-telling of the Senate Hearings into the tragedy. The play has won several national awards.
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