Bright and Distant Shores
fits well into the tradition of travel narratives, where cultures clash and moral ambiguity is the order of the day. Lives and fortunes are risked, the innocent come to knowledge, and everyone discovers more about themselves than they do about the 'other' they go looking for. Smith does a good job of building a compelling narrative while feeding our desire for the bizarre and fascinating.
I was impressed with how Smith keeps the language and setting to the period without being preachy or overly descriptive - a common problem with historical fiction. Historical people and events are sprinkled in while the characters live out the plot and further the story, so it works well and doesn't feel like a class lecture.
The best part of Bright and Distant Shores
is the interplay between the different points of view - often striking...
Beyond the Book
In Bright and Distant Shores
, Dominic Smith references some of the historic people and events that helped shape Chicago around the turn of the 20th century. Read on for more information about these fascinating institutions:
- Hull House - a resource for new immigrants to the U.S. established by two women in 1889. They offered a nursery, classes in English, technical skills, and other services to help immigrants be successful in their new country. (In Bright and Distant Shores, Adelaide volunteers here).
- Field Museum - originally called the Columbian Museum of Chicago, it was established as a result of the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (where Owen and Adelaide first meet). Exhibits from the fair were given a...