Prelude

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Overview

B. J. Hoff, one of CBA's premier writers brings this riveting historical fiction series that meticulously depicts nineteenth century America. Prelude transports you to nineteenth-century New York and invites you to step into another time—a time that shaped a nation and defined her faith. This lively story carries you from immigrant ships to opulent estates, from skating-rink evangelistic crusades to star-studded concert halls, and introducing you to men and women you'll grow to love: a brooding blind musician, ...
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Overview

B. J. Hoff, one of CBA's premier writers brings this riveting historical fiction series that meticulously depicts nineteenth century America. Prelude transports you to nineteenth-century New York and invites you to step into another time—a time that shaped a nation and defined her faith. This lively story carries you from immigrant ships to opulent estates, from skating-rink evangelistic crusades to star-studded concert halls, and introducing you to men and women you'll grow to love: a brooding blind musician, his suspicious but sympathetic sister-in-law, an unlikely pair of medical partners, and a struggling immigrant family. Pulsing with romance and intrigue, shining with artistry and faith, Prelude sounds the opening notes of a tale with a voice as big as America.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the first of three planned books in the American Anthem series, Hoff offers this lightweight evangelical Christian historical novel, chronicling the lives of Irish immigrants in the late 19th century. Susanna Fallon has left Ireland to become a companion to her young niece, the daughter of accomplished musician Michael Emmanuel and Susanna's late sister, Deirdre. She fears living under a roof with the man her sister despised, but with her parents dead and the dairy farm sold to pay the debts, Susanna is desperate. On the boat, she meets Dr. Andrew Carmichael, a character whose life will later intersect with her own. An ocean away in Ireland, Conn MacGovern; his wife, Vangie; and their five children purchase passage to America, but one child is left behind and an unlikely street urchin comes along for the ride. The many characters are only lightly sketched and presumably will be more deeply developed in subsequent novels. Historical figures appear in implausible cameo roles, including evangelist D.L. Moody and hymn writer Fanny Crosby. The sometimes formal language is geared to an evangelical audience ("To have the privilege of spending time with these esteemed spiritual leaders and their families had not only made the voyage less harrowing..."). An abrupt ending leaves most of the loose ends dangling, to be picked up in the next installment, Cadence, of which a snippet is included. This is passable Christian fiction, but it does not engage sufficiently to work well as a stand-alone title. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786250097
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 5/9/2003
  • Series: American Anthem Series, #1
  • Pages: 398
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.72 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

B. J. Hoff's best-selling novels have won numerous awards and captured a worldwide reading audience. The author of Cloth of Heaven, Ashes and Lace, Winds of Graystone Manor, and The Penny Whistle, Hoff is also a Christianity Today's Critics Choice Award winner for fiction, a Gold Medallion Award finalist, and a numerous recipient of Excellence in Media Silver Angel Awards.
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Read an Excerpt

Aboard the steamship Spain
New York Harbor, August 14, 1875

Was this an ending or a beginning?

Susanna Fallon had asked herself that question countless times since leaving Ireland, and now she was asking it again.

At first light, she had gathered on deck with the other passengers aboard the Spain, all of them eager for the sight of New York. Susanna wished she could believe that the sun rising over the sprawling American city heralded the dawn of an exciting future, a new life with new opportunities. But as the harbor came into view, any hopes she might have held for tomorrow threatened to sink. A flood of doubts rolled over her, vast and unfathomable as the ocean itself.

Susanna pulled her wrap tighter, watching as the ship slowly eased its way toward the pier. Floating garbage and debris littered the water, and she covered her nose and mouth against the stench. At the same time, a small barge angled up alongside them, and she could see an assembly of people thronging the smaller vessel, some waving at the passengers on the deck of the Spain.

"Why, look there, Mother-I believe some of our friends have come to meet us!"

Susanna recognized Mr. Moody's voice and turned to find him and Mrs. Moody, along with their children and the Sankeys, grouped just behind her. Nearby stood Dr. Carmichael, who had traveled to the States with the Moodys as a part of their en-
tourage. Apparently, the Scottish physician had played some role or other in the British Isles crusades, although Susanna had never quite determined exactly what that role was.

"Ah, Miss Fallon, here we are at last!" boomed Mr. Moody. "How does it feel to be in America?"

The burly, bearded D. L. Moody and his wife were beaming at her, and Susanna attempted a smile in return. "In truth, Mr. Moody, the only thing I'm feeling at the moment is panic."

It struck Susanna that the American evangelist looked nearly as tired as he had when she'd first encountered him upon leaving Liverpool. And small wonder, given the fact that even aboard ship he had been continually attending to the needs of others.

His wife, who seemed to draw from a limitless supply of kindness, patted Susanna on the arm with a gloved hand. "You'll be just fine, dear," she murmured. "You're going to love America, you know. This is a splendid opportunity for you."

"Of course, it is!" Mr. Moody added, his tone enthusiastic. "Now, you did say there will be someone to meet you?"

Susanna nodded uncertainly. "That's what I was told, yes."

Mrs. Moody surprised her by pulling her into a quick embrace. "We're so very glad we met you, Susanna. We'll be praying that everything goes well for you, dear. You're very brave, to come so far on behalf of your niece and brother-in-law. I know the Lord will look afer you."

To her dismay, Susanna felt hot tears sting her eyes. Her chance meeting with the Moodys and the Sankeys had done much to ease her dread of the ocean voyage. Upon learning that she was a young Christian woman traveling alone, both couples had gone out of their way to look after her, inviting her to sit with them at mealtimes, answering her endless questions about the United States, and engaging her in frequent discussions about her own country of Ireland, as well as their common interest in music.

Even before the crossing, Susanna had learned a great deal about Mr. Moody and his "campaigns," as he referred to them. It seemed that the whole of the British Isles had been taken by surprise at the success of the Moody/Sankey meetings, not only in England and Scotland, but also in the heavily Protestant north of Ireland-and in the mostly Catholic south as well.

Susanna had been only one of thousands who had flocked to the early crusades. She could scarcely believe her good fortune a few months later when she found herself aboard the same ship as the American evangelists, who were returning to the States. To have the privilege of spending time with these esteemed spiritual leaders and their families had not only made the voyage less harrowing for her, but had actually given her a number of pleasurable hours.

Only now did the finality of their parting strike her. She was going to miss them greatly.

"I don't know how to thank you," she choked out, "all of you-for your kindness to me. I can't think what the crossing would have been like without you."

"Well, dear, it was awfully good of your brother-in-law to arrange first-class passage for you," said Mrs. Moody. "Other-
wise, we might not have encountered one another at all. And how fortunate for you, to be spared the ordeal of traveling in steerage."

At the thought of the brother-in-law she had never met, Susanna tensed. Mrs. Moody, however, seemed not to notice. "I'm sure we'll see each other again, Susanna. There are plans for Mr. Moody to hold meetings in New York this fall."

"And if that works out," Mr. Moody put in, "we'll expect to see you in the very front row. Until then, you take special care, Miss Fallon, and just remember that your friends the Moodys and the Sankeys will be praying for you."

He paused, then drew a strong, encompassing arm around his wife and motioned that the Sankeys and Dr. Carmichael should move in closer. "In fact, we would like to pray for you right now, before we leave the ship."

And so they did, standing there on deck. Susanna had heard Mr. Moody pray before, of course: at their table before meals, at a shipboard worship service, and during the revival meetings she and her friend, Anna Kearns, had attended at the Exhi-
bition Palace in Dublin. It seemed that when D. L. Moody prayed, he spoke directly with God, whom he obviously knew very well and approached boldly and eagerly, with an almost unheard-of confidence.

But to have this amazing man praying solely for her was an overwhelming experience entirely. By the final Amen, much of the strain that had been weighing on her for weeks seemed to melt away.

Once they disembarked and the Moodys and Sankeys had joined their welcoming party, Susanna's earlier apprehension returned in force.

The harbor was a different world. She found herself unable to move more than a few feet in any direction because of the throngs of people milling about. The noise was almost deafening-a harsh, unintelligible din of a dozen different languages, all flooding the docks at once. The shouts and laughter of sailors and passengers, the cries of greeting and wails of farewell, the pounding of feet on the planks as children ran and shoved their way among the grownups, the occasional blast from a ship's horn-all converged and hammered against Susanna's ears until she thought her head would split.

She stood there in the midst of this bedlam, not quite knowing what to do, fighting off a rising surge of panic. In that moment, she realized with a stark new clarity how utterly alone she was.

A man's voice sounded behind her. "Signorina Fallon?"

Startled, she whipped around as if she'd been struck, ready to defend herself.

"You are Susanna Fallon?" he said.

He was young, with a fairly long, pleasant face and lively eyes behind his spectacles. And he was smiling at her, a wide, good-natured smile. He was also holding a bouquet of flowers and appeared not in the least threatening.

Susanna stared at him. The dark features, the Italian accent-it could be no one else.

But so young! According to Deirdre, Michael Emmanuel ought to be in his mid to late thirties by now. Yet he had called her by name.

"Mr. Emmanuel?" she ventured.

He gave his head a vigorous shake. "No, no! I am not Michael. I am Paul Santi, Michael's cousin. I have come to take you home."

"Home?"

He nodded. "Sì."

Whether it was fatigue or anxiety, Susanna's mind seemed to have gone suddenly dull. "I don't-how did you recognize me? How did you find me?"

"Your hat," he said, gesturing toward Susanna's bonnet. "Did you not write that you would be wearing a hat with blue ribbons?" His smile brightened even more."These are for you," he said, "with Michael's compliments."

He thrust the lavish bouquet into Susanna's hands. "If you will come with me, signorina, we must first go there, to the depot." He pointed to a granite, fortresslike circular building. "Castle Garden," he added. "I will help you with the registration and the paperwork. Michael has already made arrangements for you to be passed through quickly. Do not worry about your luggage-I will take care of it. I have been through this myself, you see. I know exactly what to do."

Susanna glanced across the dock and saw the tall, kindly featured Dr. Carmichael standing there, watching them. For an instant, she was seized by an irrational desire to run toward the man, to flee the solicitude of this dark-eyed foreigner for the pleasant-natured physician and his link to the Moodys.

But she hardly knew Dr. Carmichael any better than she knew this Paul Santi. She must be mad entirely to think of throwing herself at the mercy of a man who was known to her only by his association with the Moodys-themselves strangers until a few days past.

Regaining her wits, she turned back to Paul Santi and, bearing her bouquet and a hard-won sense of determination, managed a careful smile and a civil word as he led her across the docks.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2003

    A Riveting Read

    ¿Prelude¿ is the first book I¿ve read by author B.J. Hoff, but it definitely won¿t be my last! This book transports the reader to a simpler time when doctors still made house calls and all the modern amenities we take for granted had not yet been invented. Yet the trials of life and the complexities of human nature haven¿t changed, and Mrs. Hoff does a superb job of creating characters with individual stories that draw us in and make us care what happens to them. Will Susanna and Michael ever really understand each other? Will Renny ever find a place to call home? What happens to the McGovern family when they finally arrive in New York? Will Bethany and Andrew make it as business partners ¿ or is there something more in store for them? These are some of the questions ¿Prelude¿ raises in my mind, and I was delighted to see that this is only book one of The American Anthem Series. ¿Cadence¿ (book two) will hopefully satisfy more of my curiosity. But before you pick up book two, be sure to find a quiet corner and sit down for a wonderful, riveting read with ¿Prelude¿. As the title suggests, the story is the start of a sacred song ¿ a blessed tale of three distinct groups of people all set on a course of new beginnings. Don¿t miss it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2002

    Something for Everyone!

    Romance, suspense, historical setting, action, and true-to-life characters. Everything I look for in a book is in this one. It doesn't get any better than this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2002

    from someone who loves historical fiction

    As always, a B.J. Hoff book is well worth waiting for. Nobody in Christian fiction characterizes better, nor brings an almost lyrical "cadence" to the writing. I've always enjoyed this author's ability to juggle multiple storylines that at first may seem unrelated, but always braid together perfectly. I only wish Susanna could have made up her mind sooner--but the frustratingly abrupt ending offers another example of B.J.Hoff's depth as a writer: she knows timing, as well as how to simultaneously satisfy--yet tantalize. Needless to say, I might suffer frustration, but I'll wait as long as it takes for CADENCE!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2002

    From the Author, B. J. HOFF

    Prelude is the first volume in my new AMERICAN ANTHEM trilogy, a work I've carried in my heart for a long time. The story and its people are very special to me--and I hope they'll be special to you. Those of you who have read my other books know there are certain kinds of people I'm fond of working with, most especially the people who came to America in the 1800s and stayed to build our nation--people who might well have been our ancestors. But more than anything else, this is a work about people who get involved in the lives of others. In this first book, you'll meet a variety of people with diverse needs and struggles, but with one thing in common--they care about others. Their faith is more than a word: it's a way of life. You'll also get to know a little more about "real people," such as evangelist, D. L. Moody, and his partner, evangelist and musician, Ira Sankey, as well as the beloved hymn writer, Fanny Crosby. Already, I've had readers asking me if Moody and Sankey really did conduct their Brooklyn religious campaigns in a skating rink, and if the blind Fanny Crosby actually did go into the slums of New York City to minister to the indigent, the forgotten, the downtrodden souls who existed in the midst of the most appalling conditions imaginable. The answer is yes to both. In fact, a Brooklyn skating rink proved to be the only place large enough to hold the crowds thronging to the Moody-Sankey crusades in the fall and winter of 1875. As for Fanny Crosby--who no doubt attended one or more of those Brooklyn meetings--yes, the small, unsighted woman who wrote many of the hymns we've sung since childhood was a familiar face in the slums and mission houses of New York City, as well as among the city's railroad workers, firemen, and police officers, all of whom held a special place in her heart. In Prelude, just as you do in most of my books, you'll encounter questions. For example, why would a man who once had the world of music at his feet turn away from it all to live a quiet existence of obedience instead of a life of self-indulgence? How does a woman trapped by fear and anxiety find the courage to love a man who's not afraid of anything? What happens to a young woman, haunted by the death of her sister, when she falls in love with the man who might be responsible for that death? And how does a lonely, inner city physician keep his agony for an entire people from destroying his own health...and his relationship with the only woman he's ever loved? Welcome to Prelude and the AMERICAN ANTHEM...a world of music and faith and love, a world poised between one of the most dramatic eras in our country's history and the turbulent issues of today. B. J. Hoff

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