Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Line by Line - by Jennifer Delamere - A Bethany House book review

Bethany House book reviews, historic fiction, telegraph operators, London

The year is 1881 and Alice McNeil is ready to leave her position at London’s Central Telegraph Office in search of a position with private company. With seven years’ experience and dreams of living somewhere other than a boarding house, Alice expects that her skills plus her determination will land her a job with a promising future.

The world of the telegraph has always fascinated me. How can someone have the skill to not only memorize the dots, dashes, and pauses needed to send a message in morse code, but understand it deeply enough to receive a message in code? Line by Line is a work of Historic Fiction by Jennifer Delamere focuses on an interesting point in London’s history approximately 20 years after the completion of the Transatlantic telegraph cable.

Alice gains a step forward in her career when she is hired by Henley and Company, an importer of wheat and cotton. There she soon meets Douglas Shaw, Mr. Henley’s second in command who travels the world gaining the contracts for their imports. Mr. Shaw sees the benefit of having Alice, who is an excellent telegraph operator, learn more about the business overall, and Alice begins to see new possibilities for her future. The problem is, even though sparks begin to fly, Alice is prepared to be a spinster because she thinks it will allow her freedom to live as she wants, and Douglas has his sights set on a young society lady, Miss Rolland, he has yet to meet. 

When Douglas and his friends find an etiquette book for ladies at a local bookstore, they read a few sections and laugh. Unbeknownst to Douglas, Alice is also in the bookstore and overhears their conversation. She isn’t out to catch a man, she just wants to read the book and laugh at its suggestions… or maybe find one or two to help her with a difficult co-worker, Archie Clapper. So she purchases The Spinster’s Guide to Love and Romance and takes it home.

I enjoyed the banter between characters, the history lessons on the ins and outs of detailed telegraph work, and the everyday look at life in London, England in the 1880’s. A fun read, Line by Line is the first book of a new series from Delamere: Love Along the Wires. I look forward to her future books to see whether they will follow Alice’s friends Rose and Emma, or Douglas’s friends Stuart Carson and Hal Halverson. 

I received an electronic ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Graphic credit: Arlene @ Modern Vintage

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