Beginning a sweeping four book saga, Savannah introduces Mark Browning as a surprising protagonist–young, educated, privileged, and who, despite his upbringing and inheritance, is down-to-earth, monetarily savvy and eagerly looking for a place to call home. This he finds when he decides to leave his life in Philadelphia and start over in the city of his mother’s birth, and in which his late father had revered: Savannah, Georgia.
On the voyage to Savannah, Mark meets the man who would become his confidante and mentor, Robert Mackay, a prominent Savannah businessman. Mackay and his wife Eliza–who are in fact based on real people–immediately take Mark into their care, becoming the family he’d always craved and setting the foundation of this entire book series. Mark becomes over fond of Eliza, but also has a love interest in the most beautiful girl in Savannah, Caroline Cameron. This tug-of-war is played out through much of the book, but also related is Mark’s mysterious maternal relatives, his budding-to-burgeoning career, political events of the time, and city-wide tragedies that actually occurred. The reader will be left in little doubt of the author’s research and love for the city of Savannah.
There are beloved and quirky characters, and those of which the reader can never be sure–even beyond the last page, as this one does not tie up loose ends. Even so, there is the feeling of one era ending and another beginning. Further books in the series lead up to the Civil War and continue with the same characters, also adding new ones as the years pass. Though this is a very lengthy read, it is an unforgettable story that will appeal greatly to those who enjoy reading family sagas.
As a reader of historical fiction and a Georgian, I found this a fascinating story and recognized many names from my state’s history. Since I read mostly novels based in Europe, this was an enjoyable deviation–I have the next three books waiting patiently on my shelf: To See Your Face Again, Before the Darkness Falls & Stranger in Savannah – all with updated, beautiful covers! These are also available on eBook.