Where Hearts Are Free brings the “Darkness Into Light Series” by Golden Keyes Parsons to a close by plunging into the theme of what it means to have true freedom. After living life on the run from King Louis XIV during three years of intense religious persecution, you may think the Clavell family would know the blessing of being free. But freedom can be experienced many different ways in life, and in this novel, the family must learn another aspect of the thing they’ve longed for – freedom on the inside.
Just outside of Philadelphia in the late 1600’s, Philippe Clavell works on a plantation as an indentured servant. When his family escaped France, they couldn’t afford everyone’s passage and so Philippe and Charles became indentured servants to pay their fare. Where Hearts Are Free, is Philippe’s story. He’s almost come to the end of his contract, and more than anything, he longs to be free. On the other hand, the owner of the plantation, Mr. Barrington, has a daughter, and she longs to marry him!
But she’s Catholic. The very religious system his family spent three years trying to escape.
To make matters worse, her parents are forcing her into a marriage with an older man who is very, very bad. In this story, Philippe has to learn what it means to choose between doing what is right versus doing what his family expects of him. Philippe’s mother, Madeleine, also has to learn what it means to let go of the past and not judge a person’s heart based on their religion.
Conclusion: I love how Parsons made her characters in this series so real. A family who escaped religious persecution – you would think they were super saints, right? Not exactly. The author painted a portrait of godly, but still very human, people. For me, that took the story to the next level and I really felt connected to the emotions and feelings stirring in the plot. When a cruel word was spoken, I sighed and thought, “How could they say that? After all they’ve been through!” But a golden truth came shining through each page – no one has reached perfection. Even after the most brutal trials, people still have much to learn in life. I saw that in Madeleine. The afflictions she endured in France made her stronger, but then, she had to learn more in the New World – to extend compassion for those who were not persecutors, but still Catholic. She had to experience freedom in her heart. Then there was Bridget. There came a point I wondered why the author didn’t send a character to rescue her in a time of great need. Then I realized life isn’t always about being delivered from bad things, but learning how to move on after tragedy. That’s the lesson I think the author was teaching through Bridget’s story. What a lesson! What a great book! Wonderfully written with many new, enjoyable characters and a few bad guys. If you pick this novel up, I highly recommend reading the series in order. But with that said, you could probably read Where Hearts Are Free as a stand alone because the setting and characters are different from the first two in the series. Either way, if you enjoy historical fiction with a deep theme, you will love this book!
Read my review of A Prisoner of Versailles (book #2 in the series) – HERE!
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