Friday 29 June 2012

Richard Lander

I’m ending this month how it began, with a Dick from a young adult book. Richard Lander is featured in books one and two of Ann Rinaldi’s Quilt Trilogy, a work of historical fiction set in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1780s and early 1800s. Rinaldi’s work is certainly a step above the Angel by my Side stuff that I mentioned earlier. Rinaldi’s work is well-researched, and her books are a couple hundred pages each. When I was in middle school, I loved her stuff.

A quick note: The Quilt Trilogy is not about quilting, but what one particular quilt represents. Three sisters, who are about to physically separate, partition a quilt. Each sister is supposed to add pieces of fabric from people she trusts (as trust is something sorely lacking in their family). As the sisters separate and age, the quilt serves as a marker of identity for their descendants and as tangible evidence of the different paths their lives took.

Richard Lander is the love interest of Hannah Chelmsford, the protagonist of book one (and the eldest sister of the three quilters). Richard is a few years Hannah’s senior, and he’s about to embark on his first voyage as captain of his own ship. People in town think he’s going to become a slave trader and continually denounce him; Richard refuses to stoop to their level and refrains from comment. In the end, he brings back a shipment of pepper and is well on his way to becoming rich and successful.

Overall, Richard is a stand-up guy who shows Hannah what real love is. Although Hannah comes from a rich family, her father is, for lack of a better term, a major asshole. Her home is filled with suspicion, recriminations, disappointment, and highly-conditional love. Everyone is continually on tip-toes around Hannah’s father because he is a mean, controlling person (for instance, Hannah was once engaged to a man named Louis, but her father prevented her from marrying him because he couldn’t stand the thought of his eldest daughter – who ran his household because her mother was long deceased – leaving). Even though Hannah occasionally insults Richard and, at one point, thinks he might be a slave-trader, he never stops loving her. After Richard helps Hannah through a couple of major family crises, Hannah realizes how much Richard loves her and is finally able to admit to herself that she loves – and trusts - him (it’s worth noting that Richard is much poorer than Hannah, so he can’t marry her until he’s had some shipping success). The two ultimately become engaged, but are still unmarried when the book ends because Richard wanted/needed to return overseas and make more money.

Book Two in The Quilt Trilogy picks up many years later, when Richard and Hannah are in their late thirties/ early forties and still unmarried. Why they never tied the knot is not completely explained, but the two do get married at the end of the book. Richard is actually in a British prison for most of the book (it’s War of 1812 time), but when he returns he is his wise, caring self. He guides Hannah’s niece, encouraging her to “do the right thing,” even though it might jeopardize her standing with her douche-y grandfather (the problem relates to a new relative and the quilt, but I won’t give the rest away). He is not, however, pushy about it, but expresses his faith in the girl, thereby giving her the confidence to take the moral high road. Basically, he’s extremely kind and understanding – and awesome!

Sadly, Richard doesn’t appear in book three because he (and almost all of the characters from book one) are dead by that point. Consequently, I like that book the least and see no reason to discuss it here.

So check these books out! The reviews on Amazon are mixed, but Richard Lander is sheer awesome.

A Stitch in Time – the best one; best on character development
Broken Days – very good, but more plot driven
The Blue Door – much less awesome than the previous two

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