Just when I thought I’d gotten to know and love Elizabeth Camden as an author, along comes Beyond All Dreams.
Elizabeth Camden is my favorite sort of author – the kind who only follows formulas of her own making. By her own admission, she loves “writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges.” In that sense, Beyond All Dreams fits the mold. And, like her other novels, this latest effort delves into a period of history in which women still struggle to truly live out their dreams.
But as I read Beyond All Dreams, I had to keep reminding myself I was reading an Elizabeth Camden book. The characters felt different. The intrigue and romantic development did not fall neatly into her familiar formula. But the quality did not diminish in the least. If this talented author would like to mess with her own formula, I am definitely not one to argue with her!
Set in the months leading up to the Spanish-American War, Beyond All Dreams explores the worlds of a late nineteenth-century congressman and one of only a few female librarians working in the Library of Congress. Elizabeth Camden’s love for research presents itself in these pages as readers dive into life at the Capitol at the close of the nineteenth century. Even the political climate was fascinating to me, and I am not one to enjoy politics.
But what stands out most to me in Beyond All Dreams is the spiritual thread. Elizabeth Camden beautifully weaves history, faith, and romance together with great depth. Side plots explore the concepts of friendship, bullying, teenage angst, parenting choices, abuse, alcoholism, pacifism, and forgiveness. Tough decisions are made. Failure is experienced. Consequences are faced. And not every desire is fulfilled. Real life is still felt between these pages. And that real life is enveloped in growth that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ. In her bio, Elizabeth Camden states that writing provides her the best outlet for sharing her faith with others. She definitely accomplishes that in Beyond All Dreams, clearly expressing a life of faith and the truth of salvation without compromising quality in her writing.
I usually try to find something negative about each product I review. Something that could have been presented better. Something that might have made the story clearer or more captivating. Something that felt stilted. And perhaps there are aspects of forgiveness that were left undeveloped or characters who might have been explored a little more deeply. But, in all honesty, I wouldn’t change Beyond All Dreams one bit. Well done, Elizabeth Camden!