By Sigmund Brouwer
Sigmund Brouwer has a way with words that transport one into a story. Saffire is set in 1909 in the American Zone of the Panama Canal. This marvel of construction is going to create a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
But there is a mystery tied to this construction and James Holt has made it his mission to help young Saffire, a mulatto girl who is looking for her mother. Saffire is convinced that her mother did not desert her, but can find no one to help discover the truth. But something about Saffire's story touches James heart. Something about this young girl reminds him of his own daughter.
James Holt's search leads him outside the safety of the American Zone where he discovers there is more than a missing woman. There is political unrest and even the possibility of German intervention stirring up rebels.
The construction of the canal is explained in part and it is a fascinating process. Also of interest are the musings of James Holt as he observes these events, pitying future generations because the greatest achievements of humanity have already occurred.
Though the main story takes place over just a few days the story doesn't feel rushed or too short. This is a world that is in the midst of change. Those who are native to Panama feel they have exchanged one master for another. The racial injustices and inequalities faced by those who were not white are shocking and yet, sadly, not surprising. Sigmund Brouwer creates a story that creates a vivid canvas that teems with life.
I love the historical aspect and the research notes that the author provides at the end of the book.This is a highly recommended read, perfect for a book club setting or individual pleasure reading.
I was provided an advance review copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
About the Book:
and took that first step anyway. . .
For President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to ‘let the dirt fly’ and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats.
It’s in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt begins to protect a defenseless girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics. It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course—or bring an end to it.
A love story set within a historical mystery, Saffire brings to life the most impressive-and embattled- engineering achievement of the twentieth-century.