I’ve been a fan of Lisa T. Bergren’s books for a long time now, and I never have to worry if her books will keep me interested while also including profound takeaways. Keturah is no exception with its balance of thrilling events and deep moments of truth.
When the Banning sisters learn of their father’s death, Keturah takes it upon herself to travel to their father’s sugar plantation in the West Indies to salvage what is left of their inheritance. But traveling by sea to Nevis Island is just the beginning of their troubles. As they arrive in an unfamiliar world, they are met with backlash from the other plantation owners as well as secrets their father has kept hidden for years. As they face these hardships, Keturah struggles with making her own way or enlisting the help of a childhood friend, who she suspects is trying to win back her heart.
As always, Ms. Bergren has a knack for weaving historical details into a story that can still be relatable and relevant to a modern audience. The harshness of the sugar plantations, the beauty of the West Indies islands, the intricacies of wealthy sugar baron homes—all of these details, and more, are vividly explored as the Banning sisters travel from their cozy, comfortable estate in England to the unfamiliar jungles of Nevis. This book also hits upon many topics—from sexism to racism to marital abuse—that can still relate to many issues we still, unfortunately, deal with today. The way in which Ms. Bergren presents these hardships reveals the time and care she took in crafting her story from both a historical perspective and for a modern audience.
In addition, the characters in this story truly come to life. Keturah is a woman to be reckoned with. She has such a strong, stubborn personality that you can’t help but admire her fortitude as she faces conflict after conflict. The book is set during the late 1700s and women did not have many (if any) rights. As she faces off against men who think she should give up her plantation just to get married and settle down, she proves that women can do much more than what society believes. She never gives up.
As for the other characters, I absolutely loved the sister relationships of the three Banning girls. It was lovely to see how much they each cared for one another and even those who worked on the plantation. There is a lot of compassion and love poured out in this book, especially on those who are hurting and broken. Gray, too, was a blessed relief as a character. He proves time and time again how someone can change for the better, reminding us all of the redemption we don’t deserve but we often receive. There are many other minor characters that help facilitate many of the beautiful moments of the novel that provide healing or forgiveness to the characters.
This book is Christian fiction and therefore the characters talk about God and pray frequently. I never felt that it was overly pushy or trying to convert me toward one belief or another. It was simply showcasing a life where God is the center and how relying on Him helps guide them through life’s ups and downs. Ms. Bergren does a great job balancing faith with story, never making one trump the other.
If you like historical novels about women stepping up to go above and beyond society’s place for them, Keturah is the book for you. A beautiful, heart-wrenching story about standing up for what you believe, forgiving others, and learning to love despite life’s hardships, Keturah is another noteworthy book by Lisa T. Bergren, who has succeeded once more in her ability to tell a story with strong characters and an even stronger historical setting.