England, 1640. Sixteen-year-old Isabella is forced to flee her home when her father's radical ideas lead him into a suicidal stand against Oliver Cromwell's army. Taking refuge in Amsterdam and desperate to find a means to survive, Isabella finds work with an elderly printer, Master de Aquila, and his enigmatic young assistant, Williem.
When Master de Aquila travels to Venice to find a publisher brave enough to print his daring new book, Isabella accompanies him and discovers a world of possibility - where women work alongside men as equal partners, and where books and beliefs are treasured.
But in a continent torn apart by religious intolerance, constant danger lurks for those who don't watch their words. And when the agents of the Spanish Inquistion kidnap de Aquila to stop him printing his book, Isabella and Willem become reluctant allies in a daring chase across Europe to rescue him from certain death.
A big thanks to Lara from HarperCollins for sending me a review copy of this book!
I love anything with a good adventure and this book delivers! I've only read a couple of reviews of this book and readers seemed to really like it, so thanks to the amazing publicist, Lara from HarperCollins, I was able to read and review this amazing tale.
ACT OF FAITH is about sixteen-year-old girl named Isabella who lives with her scholarly father in England, a place that is torn apart by the conflict between Oliver Cromwell and Charles I. When they end up fleeing their home and travelling over to Amsterdam, Isabella's father is arrested which creates a small problem for the sweet and innocent Isabella. With the unexpected death of her father, drowned at sea, she has no choice but to work as an assistant for a Jewish printer, where her academic and language skills are put to good use and she soon learns there's a world where women and men are equals.
I admit, I wasn't too sure what to expect of this book. In general, whether it's standalones or shorter books, sometimes a lot of them don't offer the greatness that they deserve. But this book sure does! It was exceptionally well-written! I loved the history of the book and you could tell it was well researched. I loved the characters and the interactions between them. I most importantly I loved Isabella from beginning to end. Being a sixteen-year-old girl and living in a time of the 1600's, this period was a tough time to live amongst, where new ideas and philosophies were strongly under threat and where book were treasures - but very dangerous ones. The way Kelly Gardiner captured this element of the period, the way she describes the cities, the people, the printing, the action . . . it was something special that a lot of readers will enjoy.
With a great portrayal of the dark days of Europe under Puritans and the Spanish Inquistion, both of which really interested me before I even started this novel, ACT OF FAITH was definitely a nice, quick-paced, and an enjoyable read. While I found some parts of the book needed to be developed more, but I'm glad that Gardiner had written a character - that being Isabella - who is such a great role model for younger readers. She's smart and challenges the ideals of men being the 'suppose' stronger sex. You have to love that in a girl. ACT OF FAITH is highly recommended from me if you love adventure and a superb historical novel! And the author is Australian, which makes this book even more supersweet!