Official Review: New Caledonia by William D. McEachern

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
Post Reply
User avatar
greenstripedgiraffe
Posts: 795
Joined: 22 Oct 2015, 10:47
Currently Reading: Heart of anger
Bookshelf Size: 252
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-greenstripedgiraffe.html
Latest Review: The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Official Review: New Caledonia by William D. McEachern

Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 12 Sep 2018, 09:38

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "New Caledonia" by William D. McEachern.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


Certain events in history mark the beginning of a new era. When you examine these events closer, you can see other transitional events that are just as important as what follows. Personally, I had no idea that the whole fiasco in Scotland with "Bonnie Prince Charles" was so connected to the American Revolution on the other side of the ocean so many years later. New Caledonia by William D. McEachern explores these connections and draws lines between between political events on both sides of the ocean.

Fictional character Jamie McEachern was born in Scotland, married a Scottish girl, fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Uprising of 1719, fled the country as a fugitive—leaving his wife and small son behind—and settled in America. Jamie became best friends and business partner with Daniel Morgan (historical character). After settling in Winchester, Virginia, Jamie hoped for his family to join him in the new country. What seemed to be an idyllic situation for the McEachern family, soon took a downturn for the worse.

Jamie received news that his beloved wife would not be joining him in America, as she was brutally raped and murdered when British soldiers came looking for, but didn't find, Jamie. When Jamie originally fled Scotland, he had no idea that he would end up fighting in two more wars. On the heels of the French and Indian War came the American Revolution. Although Jamie intended to stay away from all wars and battles, cruel events took place that provided the right impetus for him to fight for the future of America.

Overall, I felt as though I learned much through this book. The author is very clear as to which characters are fictional or historical. Additionally, he provides intimate snapshots of many decisions that led to major battles and other events. I began the book having no idea that Scots were so important to the founding of America. I was fascinated to see various strings of history woven together into one giant tapestry. However, I did find the transitions from fictional to historical somewhat disjointed. Although the book was purportedly about the emigration of Scots to America and how they created their own community, major sections were devoted to behind the scenes looks at both wars. While all that information was intriguing, it gave an illusion of being two separate books throughout most of the book.

I greatly enjoyed reading about the different characters. I knew nothing of George Washington before he spent the winter at Valley Forge, but now I see a clear path from his youth to his becoming a general in the American army. It was also interesting to read about the other generals and commanders on both sides of the wars. The author spent adequate time developing the various characters, both historical and fictional. I felt that he kept the true characters of historical figures and had them all acting and speaking in character. It was clear that a major amount of research went into this book.

All sensitive topics were carefully dealt with and included little to no graphic details, which I definitely appreciate. However, I am not sure that the book was carefully edited. I found random errors from a wrong word ("barley" instead of "barely") to repeated words and other strange grammatical issues. Between the grammatical errors and the disjointed transitions, I would go with a 2.5 star if I could, but since that isn't an option, I have to give this a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.

******
New Caledonia
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like greenstripedgiraffe's review? Post a comment saying so!
"no one down here" --- Up the Down Staircase

User avatar
Rosemary Khathibe
Posts: 467
Joined: 05 Jul 2017, 16:48
2018 Reading Goal: 55
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 45
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 64
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-rosemary-khathibe.html
Latest Review: The Next Door Raghu by Biju Vasudevan

Post by Rosemary Khathibe » 13 Sep 2018, 03:28

Even though the book focuses more on emigration of Scots to America, I'm more interested in Jamie. It must have been really painful for him to receive heartbreaking news about his wife. I wonder what happened to his son there after. Awesome review!

User avatar
greenstripedgiraffe
Posts: 795
Joined: 22 Oct 2015, 10:47
Currently Reading: Heart of anger
Bookshelf Size: 252
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-greenstripedgiraffe.html
Latest Review: The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 13 Sep 2018, 07:12

Rosemary Khathibe wrote: ↑
13 Sep 2018, 03:28
Even though the book focuses more on emigration of Scots to America, I'm more interested in Jamie. It must have been really painful for him to receive heartbreaking news about his wife. I wonder what happened to his son there after. Awesome review!
Jamie is a huge part of the book - main character, except when it breaks away to battle stuff. Sometimes Jamie's story and the battles intersect, but sometimes they are pretty far apart. You'll have to read the book to find out what happened to Jamie's son, though ;)
"no one down here" --- Up the Down Staircase

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 6098
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2018 Reading Goal: 115
2017 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 83
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 94
Currently Reading: End of the Last Great Kingdom
Bookshelf Size: 224
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: It's Just a Matter of Balance by Kevin S. Garrison

Post by kandscreeley » 13 Sep 2018, 07:53

I admit that I don't know as much about history as I should. It's one of my weaker subjects. So, I love a good historical fiction that can entertain and teach at the same time. However, I'm not sure this is it for me. Between the disjointedness and the errors, I'm going to have to wait for another round of editing. Thanks.
“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Post Reply

Return to “Historical Fiction”