Review: Set in England during World War I, "Not by Sight" gives readers a new perspective on the home front war effort. This is not a typical war story, and Kate Breslin never places readers in the midst of the battlefields. Instead she takes us to the English countryside where members of Women's Forage Corps venture out of traditional female roles to help with the war effort.
Grace Mabry is an unlikely WFC worker, stepping out of her privileged life into a life of manual labor. As expected, the scenario leads to several mishaps as Grace strives to serve her country. Her fortitude in the face of uncertainty and disapproval quickly establish Grace as a good-hearted character who is easily likeable. It is not as easy to judge the motives of some of the other workers at the farm, and therein lies some of the plot's suspense. The main source of suspense is the mystery of the espionage ring and the potential ties to Grace's family. Overall, the tension remains low until the final chapters when secrets are exposed.
Romantic tension, however, runs high as Jack Benningham and Grace spend time together. Breslin uses Jack's and Grace's outings to introduce readers to the beauty of the English countryside. Grace's descriptive narration is sometimes a little florid and the circumstances contrived, but they paint a complete and lovely landscape. The love story is an interesting one, partially reminiscent of "Beauty and the Beast." Jack reminded me of Mr. Rochester from "Jane Eyre" with his biting remarks and melancholy demeanor. He is a memorable hero in circumstance and appearance. With a face covered by a mask, his looks are initially more harsh than handsome. It is always refreshing to read a romance that develops based on factors other than outward appearances. The journey of Jack and Grace is one of healing and courage which is encouraging and heart-warming to follow.
Compared to Kate Breslin's novel "For Such a Time," "Not by Sight" is slower and less gripping novel. The summary suggests that the plot is full of danger and intrigue, but it is actually quite low-key. It is still a meaningful story that provides a look into a less covered niche of history.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising
Summary from Bethany House: In the spring of 1917, all of Britain's attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.
A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country's cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.
But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.