Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard
I am an engineer and a measured man of the world. I prefer to weigh everything in the balance, to calculate and to plan. Yet my own heart is going faster than I can now count.
In 1649, Jan Brunt arrives in Great Britain from the Netherlands to work on draining and developing an expanse of marshy wetlands known as the Great Level. It is here in this wild country that he meets Eliza, a local woman whose love overturns his ordered vision. Determined to help her strive beyond her situation, Jan is heedless of her devotion to her home and way of life. When Eliza uses the education Jan has given her to sabotage his work, Eliza is brutally punished, and Jan flees to the New World.
In the American colonies, profiteers on Manatus Eyland are hungry for viable land to develop, and Jan’s skills as an engineer are highly prized. His prosperous new life is rattled, however, on a spring morning when a boy delivers a note that prompts him to remember the Great Level, and confront all that was lost there. Eliza has made it to the New World and is once again using the education Jan gave her to bend the landscape—this time to find her own place of freedom. (publisher)
Most of the book is told from Jan’s point of view, like writing a diary, about the love of his life Eliza. Towards the end of the book, we get Eliza’s point of view until it goes back to Jan for the last chapter. I thought it odd that it wasn’t back and forth the whole book. I would have liked to learn Eliza’s point of view from the start.
The book was well written but too slow-paced for me. It just dragged way too much. I didn’t connect with the characters and I wasn’t sure if Eliza really cared for anyone but herself.
I liked to learn more about Jan’s trade, which I knew nothing about. And I don’t usually read about Dutch people or this period.
Published: Atria (September 17, 2019)