I met Sara Turnquist at a recent writers’ conference, and was happy that she offered me the opportunity to read and review her debut novel. Life had a way of getting in the way of completing The Lady Bornekova as quickly as I would have liked, and appreciate Sara’s patience with me. I did enjoy this novel, as I have an interest in historical novels set in the Czech Republic. While I have not searched for books of this type, I have had the fortune to stumble upon them, and was indeed fortunate to receive a copy of this novel.
The theme of this book, standing up for one’s beliefs even when doing so places one in extreme danger, continues to speak to Christians in this day and age of both political correctness and religious persecution throughout the world. The heroine, Karin Bornekova, and her friend, Pavel, adhered to the ideas put forth by Jan Hus, an early Christian reformer and predecessor of the Protestant movement, something that threatened the nobility as well as the church. They had to make a choice, how far would they be willing to go, what risks would they be willing to take, in order to remain faithful to their faith, to their beliefs. We must also make that decision before trouble arrives.This author’s strengths, as displayed in her debut novel, include her ability to pace her story to maintain reader interest, her skill at creating mental images without lengthy descriptions that cause the story to drag, her placement of information that helps the reader to infer and desire to confirm these inferences without giving away too much too soon, and sentence structures and vocabulary that, for the most part, respect the reader’s intelligence. As a debut author, we anticipate that there will be areas in which the author can hone her craft. In this case, that would be to avoid the trap of inserting current day, Western civilization vocabulary and phrasing (e.g. tough love, active cases, making real time notes) and social norms into other periods of time or cultures. Since Sara posed questions in the reader’s mind at the end of the story, she will likely have the opportunity in future books to demonstrate a closer adherence to the culture revealed in her research. This author’s talent makes her one to watch for in the future.