2019 American Fiction Awards, Coming of Age: Finalist 2019 Foreword Indies Finalist in Adult Fiction—Historical 2018 IPPY Silver Winner in South—Best Regional Fiction
“… will seize readers from the first page and not let go.”
"Fans of Paulette Jiles and Julia Quinn will adore this triumphant novel of intrigue, secrecy, and redemption."
"Sweet and tender, this is a story with a slow-burning chemistry between the main leads, in addition to plenty of historical facts for readers who are seeking a well-researched historical fiction novel. It's a story not to be rushed through, but one to savor."
"With compelling characters, a charming peek into Charleston society, a heart-racing romance, rich historical detail, and an epilogue that will have you holding your breath, Friedland has written a well-crafted novel that will stay with you long after you turn the final page."
—Susie Orman Schnall, award-winning author of The Subway Girls, The Balance Project, and On Grace
"Friedland is a modern Bronte sister remixed with Kathleen Grissom or Leila Meacham. Trouble the Water is the riveting story of Abby, who travels across the sea, fleeing Liverpool, poverty, and an unsavory uncle, for Charleston, where a wealthy friend of her father, Douglas, lives. Douglas has pledged himself to the fight to end slavery, and for that, he has made the ultimate sacrifice. Abby fights inner demons and tries to find her place in Charleston high society while her brooding guardian reconciles the past and returns to his beloved cause. Lovers of Civil War-era historical fiction will rejoice at Friedland’s triumphant novel of love, friendship, and the most important issues of the day.”
—Bethany Ball, author of What to do About the Solomons
"The complicated history of the antebellum South comes alive in Friedland's debut novel and offers readers an exciting and fast-paced literary journey that explores complicated relationships, the importance of friendship, and the necessary power of love."
—Kris Radish, best-selling author of A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere
"With a plucky heroine, a dashing hero, and the backdrop of the clandestine abolition movement in the antebellum South, Jacqueline Friedland masterfully weaves a tale full of passion and honor, duty and survival, evil and the beauty of basic human decency. Trouble the Water will make your heart pound and swell, and keep you reading well into the night. Highly recommended!"
—Loretta Nyhan, author of I'll Be Seeing You, All the Good Parts, and Digging In
"In a narrative tapestry woven of brilliant threads of history and drama, Jacqueline Friedland introduces her readers to seventeen-year-old British-born Abigail Milton; her generous but reluctant benefactor, Douglas Elling; and the complex world of antebellum Charleston. The evil of slavery, the nascent abolitionist movement, and the courage of an operative of the underground railroad are explored against the background of the vanished world of debutante cotillions, social intrigue, and the slow maturity and melding of skillfully drawn protagonists. Friedland’s research is impeccable, her writing fluid. Trouble the Water is that rare pedagogic novel that engages as it teaches.”
—Gloria Goldreich, author of The Bridal Chair
"Trouble the Water is a story that takes you to another time and place; the characters and their tales will stay with you long after the last page. Readers who are interested in Civil War history will enjoy this novel." —Story Circle Book Reviews
In Friedland's debut historical novel, a British family sends their daughter to South Carolina, where she becomes embroiled in the mid-19th-century politics of the Deep South. Abby Milton arrives in Charleston in 1845, already haggard due to the South Carolina heat. Hailing from Wigan, England, she's been sent away to ease the financial burden on her middle-class family. An old family friend, the highly esteemed and enigmatic estate owner Douglas Elling, receives her. The novel opens three years before this, with a tragic fire at Douglas' home that kills his wife and daughter; he watches helplessly as his staff prevents him from rushing into the flames. By the time Abby arrives, Douglas is embittered and reclusive. Her early impression is that he's also a bigot; he yells at her for making physical contact with a black stable hand. Then readers learn that he was once involved in liberating captives from slave ships and continues to shelter black refugees. As Abby and Douglas' relationship develops, she learns more about his position in the town. She reluctantly attends the Cunningham ball, where she meets the striking, if manipulative, Cora Rae Cunningham, who has designs on Douglas. As politics and desire heat up, Abby and Douglas tread a precarious path, but will it bring them together or tear them apart? This is a promising debut from Friedland, who writes with an enviable emotional intuitiveness. Her prose bores to the center of her characters' psychologies to reveal their drives and desires: "He knew the minute he laid hands on her, he couldn't say why, that his new mission was to rescue her, not only from the immediate incident, but from whatever it was that had pushed her from her British home, ragged and defeated, to him....Maybe at last he could save just one person who was actually relevant to the story of his own life." This results in engaging characters that readers will care about. Overall, this is a well-researched novel that vividly and believably reanimates the aristocratic world of South Carolina's historical planter class. A vibrant, solidly entertaining story that will seize readers from the first page and not let go.