Island of a Thousand Springs by Sarah Lark
Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Publisher: Bastei Entertainment
London, 1732: Nora Reed, the daughter of a merchant, falls hopelessly in love with her father’s clerk, Simon. Despite their differing social class, the star-crossed lovers dream of a future on a tropical island – until tragedy strikes, and Nora must face a life without her soulmate. Hopeless, Nora enters a marriage of convenience with Elias Fortnam, a widower and sugar planter in Jamaica. Even without Simon, she is determined to somehow fulfill their tropical fantasy. But life in the Caribbean doesn’t turn out as Nora had dreamt.
Nora is deeply shocked by the way plantation owners treat the slaves and decides to shake things up on her own sugar cane plantation – for the better. Surprisingly, her adult stepson Doug supports her in this endeavor when he arrives from Europe. However, his return also puts things into a state of turmoil – especially Nora’s feelings.
Just as Nora seems to be settling into her role as lady of the house, one harrowing event rips everything from her but her life…
A gripping tale of love and hate, trust and betrayal, and a thrilling destiny set against the pristine beaches and swaying palmtrees of the tropics.
Island of a Thousand Springs begins in London in the seventeen hundreds where we first meet Nora. Nora, the daughter of a successful merchant, has done the unthinkable…fallen in love with one of her father’s employees, Simon. Reminding us of how prevalent social status and class were in those days, Nora knows that society won’t be agreeable to their relationship but she loves Simon and the pair are determined to be together.
Although sadly it’s not long before tragedy strikes when Simon becomes severely ill and passes away, leaving Nora heartbroken and facing a long and lonely life without him.
However Nora’s life later takes an unexpected twist when she agrees to marry Sugar Plantation owner, Elias Fortnam who whisks her away from London and takes her to live in Jamaica. She convinces herself she can learn to love Elias, despite still not being over Simon, and after all, she’s getting to live in the beautiful Caribbean, what could be better?
When Nora arrives in Jamaica it’s clear that she’s in for a shock, however, as she discovers what is really going on in these plantations, all of the abuse that the slaves there receive and the shocking way in which they are mistreated.
Nora does all that she can to help the slaves, providing medical treatment and caring for them whilst making it her mission to change the working conditions the slaves are forced to endure and attempting to provide a better future for them.
Just as Nora seems to be making progress with her battle, Elias’ son, Douglas, arrives and things take a shocking and rather unexpected turn…
Sarah Lark is a well known historical fiction author who (for some rather bizarre reason!) I have yet to discover. However, the synopsis of Island of a Thousand Springs immediately caught my attention. It promised to be an exciting, inspiring, big adventure of a novel and it certainly didn’t disappoint…
I really liked the way in which Sarah Lark presented this story, the way it was spilt into sections and the reader is told both where each part of the story is taking place and also the years that are being covered. This ensures you don’t lose your whereabouts and allows you to take in the story’s developments all the better.
Sarah Lark forms a superb character in the form of Nora. You immediately warm to her and whether your heart is breaking for her or you’re feeling huge admiration for her, she is a character who undergoes an extreme and inspiring journey. She starts off as a love-struck, shy, young girl but transforms into a head strong, fierce yet extremely caring, young woman.
The amount of research Sarah has put into this novel is incredible and I feel as though I’ve learnt so much from reading Island of a Thousand Springs, without even realising it. I am ashamed to say I had very little knowledge of Jamaica but I found it fascinating learning about the country which is vividly brought to life through Sarah’s use of descriptive language. Her writing has left me thirsty to learn more about this amazing place and its history. The way in which the contrast is highlighted between both the rich and the poor and the black and the white during the seventeen hundreds is done in such a factual way that it won’t fail to shock you and it’ll certainly make you think too. I know it certainly made me pause for thought.
If you’re looking for a novel to get completely and utterly lost in then you’ve succeeded. Island of a Thousand Springs will absorb you and take you on a shocking, saddening, yet inspiring adventure…an adventure which I can’t wait to continue…
A huge thank you to Sophie at ed publication relations for kindly sending me a copy of Island of a Thousand Springs to read and review.♥
Sarah Lark, author of several bestselling historical fiction novels in Germany and Spain, was born in Germany’s Ruhr region, where she discovered a love of animals–especially horses–early in life. She has worked as an elementary school teacher, travel guide, and commercial writer. She has also written numerous award-winning books about horses for adults and children, one of which was nominated for the Deutsche Jugendbuchpreis, Germany’s distinguished prize for best children’s book. Sarah currently lives with four dogs and a cat on her farm in Almería, Spain, where she cares for retired horses, plays guitar, and sings in her spare time.