Title: A Rumored Fortune
Author: Joanna Davidson Politano
Genre: Historical Fiction
About the Book:
Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.
Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.
A Rumored Fortune is a book that is best read slowly and thoughtfully in order to gleam the deepest implications hidden beneath the vines of Trevelyan. As Tressa is struggling with how to make ends meet while searching for her father’s lost fortune, she is faced with many realities in life she hadn’t before been forced to think about. Turning to her father’s old journal entries, Tressa calls on the help of newcomer Donegan Vance to help her translate them so that she can seek out clues as to where the treasure may be hidden. But in truth, Tressa and her mother aren’t the only ones looking for the fortune. Trevelyan is littered with people in search of the same prize. It lights a fire under Tressa to be the first to make the discovery.
Each chapter in the story starts with a quote that on the surface is about tending a vineyard, but on a deeper level reveals life truths. One example is from chapter 4:
“Force a vine to struggle and you give it a better chance at life. For any vine that has to reach its roots deep into the soil to find water and cling heartily to the guide wire against the wind will have a firm anchor to withstand any climate.
— Notebook of a viticulturist”
you could easily spend several minutes meditating on each of the quotes at the beginning of the chapters. When we view them in terms of God being the vine and us the branches, it gives a whole new appreciation for the journey we see the characters on. It enables us to put ourselves in their shoes and question our own motives in the choices we make.
Tressa’s character really intrigued me. She seemed like a very sweet character, but you could also see how her upbringing shaped her as a person in her society. She was raised in privilege and was never in fear of her needs being met. As the story unfolds and she starts to question the very presence of a fortune, the real shaping of her character begins. When you look at her as the branch being shaped and not just the actual vineyard, you start to see her in a whole new light. Each day she’s faced with the choice of giving-in to defeat, or digging her roots deeper to become who she’s meant to be.
While the story was well-written, I have to admit that I struggled in places to get into it. There was a lot of deep thought to be had in each situation, but I feel that the depth was given to the words instead of the characters. I appreciate the author’s way with words and ability to create vivid imagery, but I admit that I was often lost in it, losing sight of what was really going on.
If you prefer a slower-paced, thought-provoking read, then this is the perfect book for you to check out. While I had some pros and cons to the story, overall I greatly enjoyed it myself. Joanna has a very impressive way with words, and I’m sure I’ll be reading more from her in the future.
*I received a complimentary copy from the Revell Publishing. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness/Content Awareness:
Generally speaking I would consider this a clean read. I don’t see anything in the content to prevent younger readers, but I would definitely take reading level into account. There is a lot of deep thought and analysis involved in gleaming the full worth out of the story, so it’s one I’d leave to either deep thinkers and/or avid and advanced readers.