May 3, 2017

Fresh from the Bookshelf: The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing {Book Review}

The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing~ Book Review
We recently had the pleasure of reading our very first Lamplighter Publishing novel (Escape from the Eagle's Nest), and I was thrilled to have a chance to review a second one, The Secret Bridge over the last few weeks. The old fashioned, wholesome, classic stories from the late 1800's bring about a sense of happiness once they have been completed, and I hoped that this new novel would as well.

About The Secret Bridge

The Secret Bridge is another story in the Lamplighter Publishing line of rare books. With its gorgeous robin's egg blue cover and gold foil design, it is designed to be a treat to the senses from the moment it hits your hands. Lamplighter Publishing has a goal of "building Christ-like character one story at a time", thus every story has an underlying Christian message. There is a definite line between the good characters and the bad characters, as displayed by their character traits and morals (or lack thereof). You are never in question of whether someone is a villain or not.
Many of the stories will include characters who experience trials that test their faith, or characters who find faith. All of this happens inside a mystery or dramatic plot, many full of adventures.

The Secret Bridge was originally written by Amy Le Feuvre in 1899.  The tale opens on a passenger ship from India to London, where we see the congenial soldier Godfrey Bullingham first meeting the aloof and fair Bridget Channing. Bridget is in deep mourning after the loss of her father, and is in route to stay with an uncle in London, after a life with her father on a coffee plantation in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Godfrey has just taken his parents and sister to Japan and is on the way back to "the Admiralty" to await his next ship.  Godfrey decides to befriend Bridget after discovering her travelling alone, hoping to get to know her better. Bridget, although pensive about the situation at first, comes to enjoy their discussions as they complete the journey. Once they arrive in London, they go their separate ways...until he discovers her standing outside of her uncle's residence, looking very forlorn. After discovering her uncle has died and she no longer has any residence, he steps in to assist--even though she is determined to do it on her own if at all possible without "accepting charity". However, in wisdom she realizes the benefit his help provides to a penniless orphaned young girl, and before long, finds herself married to this almost stranger...

The rest of the story explores how Bridget and Godfrey continue their relationship--with their marriage kept secret, while she is in a home near his parents, during the time he is on his now obtained new commission on a ship. During his absence they decide to write letters to "get to know each other". Through her experiences trying to make life work while on her own while Godfrey is away--she experiences a desire to further a fledgling faith, which is fanned into a fire gently by a wise neighbor in the area. While she's trying to know Christ and God more fully, she is also trying to build a relationship with Godfrey's parents and sister--hoping that by the time Godfrey arrives home, they will love her so much already that they will welcome her in their arms upon learning she's married to Godfrey--even if she IS penniless. Throughout the story, we are introduced to one secret after another, and we learn that Bridget has a previously unknown to her family history far beyond anything she could that brings trial and tribulation for the young couple!

My Thoughts on the Story

Preparing to read during lunch
The overall theme of this book, is definitely one of being the bride of Christ, and growing in our relationship to Him, by reading "His letters" to us as we await His coming--this is a GREAT message! Many aspects of this book reminded me of another author that I love, who wrote about 30-40 years after this book was published. As expected with these classic pieces of Christian fiction, the lines are clearly drawn in the sand between good and evil, morality and immorality. Good always wins, everything always works out, love conquers all.

The title of the story The Secret Bridge made me believe this might be an adventure story of some sort, but as I read the novel, I realized it was just going to be a lovely romantic drama. I picked up the twist on the title about halfway through, as most readers will. In fact, most readers will guess how the book will end by 2/3 of the way through--and in some areas they will be correct, and in others they will be wrong. It also has moments of feeling like the tale of Romeo & Juliet! LOL.

I definitely qualify this book as a "feel good" novel that leaves you satisfied that all the "ends" were tied up and questions were answered. There isn't any heavy reading in this book, no complex plots.

In regards to reading level--I would say this is appropriate for grades 5+, although I think it's something that will appeal more to the ladies with its heavy romantic elements, and predominately female characters. Because all the characters are age 18+, I would even put it as more of a selection adults would choose, not anything counting as young adult fiction (which it's not). It is an easy read--It only took me a couple hours to knock it out, but then, I am a very fast reader.

The Secret Bridge earns 3.5 ★
All in all, I do recommend The Secret Bridge, if you want a light read with a solid Christian message. There were a few doctrinal related things that I didn't agree with, but that is me reading it through my religious filter and it didn't detract from the story as I read it. I gave this 3.5 stars, because while it is a good story, it was super light, without any unexpected plot twists or complexity, as well as having a fairly predictable ending. I prefer more oomph to my books. However, it was still very enjoyable. And the cover--well if you judged a book by its cover, this one knocked it out of the park with the super elegant design and detail. The cover alone made me want to read it! LOL

The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}
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Of the two books that I have now read from Lamplighter Publishing, I can say that I enjoyed this one the most--even though they were very different. I plan on sharing it with my mom, since she knows the other author I likened the style of writing to. I hope she will enjoy the story too.
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