"Claire Gebben writes with clear, concise prose. The historical material enhances her story…. Her characters are well-developed with both virtues and foibles. This is a more or less true story that has been pieced together from a transatlantic correspondence over the generations." --Historical Novel Society
"This is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of historical fiction.... Kudos to Claire Gebben for making genealogy and fiction work so well together!" --Eleanor L. Turk, Yearbook of German American Studies, Spring 2015
The Last of the Blacksmiths' story begins in Germany in 1857 and travels to Cleveland, Ohio ending in 1910. It's an intimately detailed story in which readers viscerally feel what it was like to be alive during the late 1800s. Rich in details, readers explore the thoughts of the German-born people living during America's western migration, early industrial era, and its pre- through post-civil war times.
The story focuses on Michael Harm, a dreamer stuck on his father's farm in which he has no interest. Forever not quite measuring up to the family's expectations, he doubts himself. But at fifteen he travels to America to follow his dream of becoming a blacksmith. We join in his life's challenges as he forges his new life.
"Throughout the winding journey, I kept my eyes pasted on the countryside, the clusters of half-timbered houses tied like knots of yarn on a quilt of green velvet. How ancient this landscape seemed…"
Author Claire Gebben weaves beautifully layered descriptions bringing a depth to the story. "Throughout the winding journey, I kept my eyes pasted on the countryside, the clusters of half-timbered houses tied like knots of yarn on a quilt of green velvet. How ancient this landscape seemed…" She carved the story from original letters written between families living in America and Germany as well as stories from the letter writers' decedents. Gebben writes from the heart.
Susan Roberts, San Francisco Book Review, March 11, 2014
"The writing quality is superb, the historical and geographic detail utterly convincing, the characters well-drawn, and the dialogue persuasive … Claire Gebben has extraordinary promise. Her prose is quite brilliant; I fully lived within her world."
--William Dietrich, Pulitzer-Prize winning author
"A thoughtful and often poignant look at the struggles of immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, and which are very likely familiar to immigrants today. Kudos to Ms. Gebben for allowing her imagination to take flight and delivering a heartfelt story that is both enlightening and entertaining." Read more ….
--Charlotte Morganti, Morganti Write Blog
"Claire Gebben delivers an unforgettable narrator, an intimate glimpse of the immigrant experience, and an ultimately uplifting story."
--Ana Maria Spagna, author of Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus
"Meticulously researched and lovingly written. Claire Gebben's new novel is both intimate and epic, following one immigrant's journey to America but representative of the journeys of millions."
--Lawrence Coates, author of The Garden of the World