3 out of 4 stars
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Dor Slinkard's For the Love of Patrick is a historical fiction story, set in the late 1800s and early 1900s, comprising of two parts. The first part follows Sally and the difficult circumstances surrounding leaving her baby boy, Patrick, at the doorstep of an orphanage for girls in South Australia. In a miserable state, Sally set out to Adelaide city to find work to sustain herself. However, after walking many miles, her strength gave out and she collapsed. Her rescue by Jonathon Darcy, a lawyer new to Adelaide city, sets up an interesting story of love and true friendship. The second part of the story revolves around Patrick on his route to self-discovery and his adventures from his time as a teenager to fighting for Australia in the army in World War I.
The first theme explored in this story was love. While the story felt oversaturated with this theme at times, it was heartwarming seeing how Sally and Jonathan's romance blossomed. There was also the love shared between Sally and her friends, Bernadette, Colleen, and the ever-cheerful and big-hearted Jum watt, which helped her overcome a very rough past to achieve stability in her life. It was nice seeing these characters look out for each other and engage in fun activities, like horse racing, together.
The author portrays the late 1800s in an interesting way in this story. The characters' dressing style and system of communication and transport were generally consistent with what could be seen in that era. I liked that the author also explores the mindset of people in that era with respect to traditional gender roles. Women were expected to dress and act in typically feminine ways by being accommodating, polite, soft, nurturing, and aspiring only to get married most of the time, while men were usually expected to be providers, strong, and bold. Women were also not allowed to vote, and it was interesting seeing Bernadette's involvement in seeking change in that area. However, the author didn't dwell as much on this area as I would have preferred.
The first part of the story was mostly happy, besides the early parts where Sally struggled with finding her feet and the occasional periods when her decision to leave Patrick haunted her mind. This made the story a bit boring at times, as I would have liked the author to deeply explore the effects of Sally's secret child, Patrick, on her relationship and friendships. The few times her secret was in danger of being leaked brought the much-needed suspense that lacked in the first part of the story. The second part of the story makes up for the lack of suspense though.
Furthermore, character development, especially on Patrick's character, was really good in the story. Readers will follow Patrick's situation with growing up in an orphanage for girls, being the apple of everyone's eyes at the orphanage, and eventually being spoilt. This led to him growing up to become a womanizer and making a few mistakes until he was able to find love with Addy, Bernadette's daughter. Other interesting characters like Angus, Patrick's half brother, and Clare also ensured that the second part of the story was more exciting than the first. The good job done by the author in this department will ensure that the characters are endearing to the readers. The author also scores points from me for efficiently using misspelled words to give readers a feel of different accents in the story.
For the Love of Patrick is very well edited. I found only one error throughout the book. The book is also well organized. The use of italicized words to represent the characters' thoughts and clearly indicating the speaker during dialogues ensured that there were no interruptions while reading and the story was free-flowing.
Overall, For the Love of Patrick was an enthralling read for me. While the pace of the story starts off slow, the story develops into a well-paced story full of twists, drama, romance, and a few sad moments that were touching. Another thing I liked about the book was the author's writing during sex scenes, which involved giving a few details and leaving room for the reader's imagination. All things considered, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The book's slow start made it a bit less than perfect for me. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and romance novels.
For the Love of Patrick
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