Author: Tucker Shaw
Read Time: 1 Day
Rating (1-5): 3.5
Tag Words: True love, soul mates, historical fiction, dual perspective chapters, literary references, Evangeline by Longfellow, death, slavery, weddings
Told in part by the modern Eva, and the historical Gabriel, Anxious Hearts is the story based in Longfellow’s poem, Evangeline and the legend of two tragically fated lovers.
This book has so many technical errors, and honestly, I am shocked I still love it as much as I do. I’m going to get into those bits in a minute, but I want to start off by saying that though I love the romanticized writing style, and am very into tragedy, I am not recommending this book to anyone who would rather go contemporary, or anyone who likes their love stories to be more rational and less fantastical.
Shaw had quite the task on his hands. He had to write a modern telling of the Evangeline poem, written by Longfellow, that was first based in a legend, surrounded by true history that most people never read about in a school textbook. It was because this time in history is so untold that I was surprised how little effort Shaw went into setting the stage of where the reader was, the landscape the reader was looking at, and who the adversary’s were of the people in the 'village.' Honestly, for a while I considered that I was reading about a fantasy land because nothing rang a bell for me and Shaw didn’t lend a hand.
I am also confused by the ending, and without spoiling I want to ask- are they reincarnated soul mates, or is Gabriel a fiction writer? This question goes unanswered, and I suppose it’s up to the reader to decide.
I had a few other tiny problems, like the fact that we never get to know Gabe, or Evangeline, only Gabriel and Eva, so sometimes the story is a bit obscure and the plot points slightly dramatic and open-ended. The style of narration slipped between first person (Eva) and third person (Gabriel). And of course the fact that Gabe barely says ten words in the entire Eva plot really makes me wonder how she could have fallen so.
I do still love the story, which is completely characterized by a tragic love story. The characters only exist to share the devotion of one another, the plot is only useful to drive them apart and the writing style appeals to lovers of clean romance. Well done on that front.
Notes on the Names: I picked up the book for the names-
Gabriel and Evangeline, both favorites! Evangeline has been on my name list since I was nine and Gabriel is the male version of my name and I love it as a middle name for my son. Obviously the names are widely appealing and fit in with the romantic tone of the novel.
Thoughts on the Cover: This is an AMAZING cover. It has a front and a back. On the front you see Evangeline and on the back Eva. I am in love with the designers work and can only hope my cover would ever look so lovely and ingenious.
Parental Book Review *spoilers*
It is implied that each couple, past and present, share one night together, but it is not described and barely confirmed.
The men of Cadia are taken hostage and Gabriel makes a long trek to find Evangeline again, only to die.
A very clean romance!