Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Clever Mill Horse based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
The Clever Mill Horse is initially an intriguing and endearing look at the life of young women in small towns in upstate New York in the early 1800s. A major backdrop is provided as Britain's behavior on the high seas moves the young Nation towards a new war. Author Lew-Smith drew me in with mentions of specific places I had traveled through and Iroquois traditions which I've always had an interest in. After only a couple of chapters though I was really connected with the characters' struggles. The story of siblings and friends is contrasted by the emotional and interpersonal damage done in an abusive household. Some of the cuts run deeper than expected. Siblings partially estranged renew their connections as they fight to preserve the legacy of their grandfather and their oldest sister. Ella is an awkward girl according to the standards of feminine behavior of the times, She feels more at home in the forest than in her own home, but she is as smart as a steel trap and has a spark of creative genius when it comes to machine engineering. She becomes her grandfather's right arm at his mill and forge due to her uncommon abilities deciphering problems. But not all. Her knowledge of her own heart is incomplete among other things. She and her siblings are put to a difficult test beginning with a deadly confrontation with horse thieves. This fight involving several players has wide spreading and unexpected results. When repeated violence finally takes its ugly toll, the sense of duty they feel to the family and to each other elevates a journey they must make, to an adventure. Through several surprise turns and twists, shifting loyalties and even questions of their own bloodlines, the siblings have few faithful allies. Still family must prevail, no matter "who" that might mean. For me, this was a real page turner with taut, well-conceived pacing but still enough narrative to get a solid feel for the settings. The characters are especially well-crafted. I'd highly recommend it to any reader of historical romance and especially to anyone who lives in the Northeastern states. The Clever Mill Horse makes an outstanding start of a new series and I'm primed to anxiously await Jodi Lew-Smith's next book.
A story with a strange premise. A girl's quest to patent a design for a flax machine. I'm not quite sure what drew me to this story but I'm so glad I make the investment to try it. This is a sweeping historical drama that involves a little mystery and some adventure. I became so engrossed in these characters that I was terribly disappointed with the ending. Perhaps because it lacked a certain finality to it. Maybe it was simply that the story I enjoyed so much was over. You are pulled into a stark and dreary landscape that mirrors the lives of these characters. Each one has their own demons to concur along the way. Some more than others. This book moves at the pace of a plodding work horse, but the despair of the characters will keep you turning pages. Just reading this book made me feel cold. Cold like the surroundings and cold like the hearts of some characters. This is a book about life, and it does a damn good job of making you feel like it is your own.