‘Kate Marsden: nurse, intrepid adventurer, saviour of the lepers or devious manipulator, immoral and dishonest?‘
As she lies on her deathbed visited by the ghosts of her past, who should we believe, Kate or those who accuse her of duplicity? Memory is a fickle thing: recollections may be frozen in time or distorted by the mirror of wishful thinking. Kate’s own story is one of incredible achievements, illicit love affairs and desperate longing; those of her accusers paint a very different portrait – of a woman determined on fame and fortune.
The reader navigates a narrative as fractured as the Siberian ice Kate crosses in search of a cure for leprosy, and as beautiful as Rose, her lost love, as the full picture emerges of a life lived when women were not expected to break the mould.
Every once in a while you read a book that’s totally different for you – that might be in its structure, its subject matter, its tone – or in the case of this book – all three at once!
I love a book that confounds all my expectations, but this unusual and creative novel certainly does
We all have experienced places that have ‘spoken’ to us. Whether you are religious or not, experiencing some greater power in a special place is an overwhelming feeling. I’ve never been to Siberia– but I really felt like we were able to access some of its atmosphere filtered through these experiences and it was fantastic to be whisked through these different places in her life and her experiences there. From Russia to New York, there’s no time to weary as we are drawn through these reminisces and re-live so many memorable moments with her.
This novel allows us to follow the life of iconoclastic Kate Marsden and discover all about her life and mission. I was really intrigued to find out more about her life when I discovered that this novel was based on a real person and this certainly added an extra dimension for me as I read. I became engrossed in all of the overlaying stories and the unspoken motivations that made her seem all at once a sympathetic character and a shameless self-promoter who drove people onwards to fulfil her own ambitions.
Although it was easy to judge Kate at times, Roberts is such a skilled writer that she does ask us to consider why she might behave the way she does and this allows us to build our empathy for her the more we read on and find out her story by walking in her shoes and learning that everyone does ‘walk their own path’ on this life’s journey.
Rose was the most intriguing character for me: her place as one of the most important figures in Kate’s life fascinated me as it was difficult to understand how she dealt with this situation and being set apart from society in this way must have been a real weight on her shoulders. I love being inspired by books to do some research afterwards and this led me on a real journey looking into this part of history and some of the characters that had similar experiences to Kate Marsden.
You can read more about Kate and her story here; I was truly fascinated by her story and loved finding out more about this part of history.
Even though I am not a religious person myself, the description of her mission was skilfully conveyed. You could absolutely believe in her story as this complex and fascinating woman came to life on the page as this novel unfolded. It does not matter whether you are a Christian or an atheist, there is something very compelling about the way that the leprosy mission is portrayed in this novel that will captivate you and make you want to read more about this intriguing story that I’d never heard of before reading this novel.
I would like to thank Emma Welton for a copy of God’s Children to read and review and for inviting me on the tour. It makes me so happy to encounter books through my blogging that I might otherwise never have encountered and it’s one of the many reasons that I’m so glad that I found blogging and all the wonderful people I’ve met through doing it.
Writer On The Shelf
Mabli Roberts lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and has worked as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wales, Newport. Most of her inspiration comes from her love of history and from long walks in the timeless landscape around her.
Mabli also writes as Paula Brackston, PJ Brackston and PJ Davy. Nutters was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award and The Witch’s Daughter was a New York Times bestseller.
Her work has been translated into five languages and is sold around the world.
Look her up on the God’s Children Facebook page: