EMILY BARROSO's Big Men’s Boots (Book One) – The Way


I am of the opinion that historical fiction writers have a harder job than most fiction writers. The declaration of the happenings their work is based on takes away from the mystery readers like me enjoy when flipping the pages of a book for the first time. Also, knowing what events a book has gleaned its “life” from creates an expectation, for good or for ill, in the mind of the reader – an expectation that can be easily dashed, depending on whether the reader is conversant with the events inspiring the story or not. Of course, the genre has its masters, like James Michener, who has the gift of creating magic even from the most boring historical materials. But like I said, it is a hard job bringing old events to life in the form of a fiction; I salute those who dare to try.

Big Men’s Boots – The Way is about Owen Evans, the son of a revivalist preacher, with a gift of prophecy. Earlier in his life, the death of a childhood friend as well as the economic situation around him brings up many doubts and questions about God’s love and presence. Later on, even as God’s gift within him starts to manifest, Owen continues to struggle against uncertainties and unanswered questions. However, with the help of Anna, an old local prophet, he finally sees his visions and premonitions for what they are - gifts from God. The rest of the book shows us how Owen accepts his calling and the ways he uses it to bring support the Church in sustaining the revival that has begun to kindle in the community.

Big Men’s Boots – The Way is a historical fiction based on the Welsh Revival of 1904. As with the genre, it leans heavily on real events of the time as well as the geographical features of Wales. Where the book shines is the accuracy of the political happenings of that period and the way the author marries that with the book’s plots. Unfortunately, apart from few typographical errors, the pacing is a bit off and some sections of the book are just too heavy on description. Apart from Anna the prophet, who has a bit of depth and regal-ness going for her, some of the characters are clichéd.

Big Men’s Boots is a well-researched material, but it falls flat as a fiction due to over-description and poor pacing. Unless you are a student of history or someone with vested interest in the Welsh Revival of 1904, Big Men’s Boots can be difficult to get through for lack of suspense and sustainable conflict.

Big Men's Boots - The Way is written by Emily Barroso and published by Hillman Publishing (27 Sept. 2013). Its paperback version is available to buy from Amazon.

Many thanks to Hillman Publishing for review copy.
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