Top critical review
Interesting but plodding
Reviewed in the United States on November 22, 2020
Through the lens of the last generation of the Honeywood family living in Marblehead, Massachussetts, the reader gets treated to three centuries of family and town history. The novel starts on the night the hurricane of 1846 battered Marblehead, and follows the life of Hesper Honeywood for the following sixty-four years.
Far from being a page-turner, The Hearth and Eagle is a very dense family saga with occasional historical references—impeccably researched nonetheless —that, at times, feels immensely longer than its 389 pages. It is populated by characters that feel human and authentic —with flaws and virtues, with feelings, emotions and reactions like any person.
This novel excels more at the historical than at the mundane descriptions of daily living. I wished the historical passages—like the Puritans Great Migration towards the New World in 1630, the odd reference to the American Revolutionary War, and Hesper’s aid to a runaway slave by serving as a connection of the Underground Railroad—had peppered the story more evenly but those were far between, this novel being the story of a family through several generations.