Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"A Name Unknown" by Roseanna M. White


I'd read a LOT of glowing reviews of this book, but weirdly enough, I wasn't actually sure what it was about.  Something involving traitors?  I don't like traitors.  I didn't want to read it.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut Eva Schon gave me a copy for my birthday, swearing up and down that I would love it.  And I trust her taste pretty well, so I let the book sit on my shelf for about four months, then finally tried it because I always feel guilty when it takes me a long time to get around to reading a book someone gave me.

Um, yeah.  I loved it.


It's not about traitors, it's about a professional thief (yum) putting her con artist skills (swoon) to work finding out IF a certain British gentleman with a German family is a traitor.  It hooked me early and hard, and I gobbled this book up.

Especially once I met Peter, the gent in question.  Peter stutters.  I have this very strong protective instinct for people with speech impediments.  I don't even know why, because I've never stuttered, and I didn't grow up around anyone with a speech impediment, but boy howdy, you give me a person who has one and I will champion them across the universe.

And when that person (real or fictional) is also a writer and a dyed-in-the-wool sweetheart?  I'm a gone goose.  Especially when they're a sincere Christian who relies on God to understand them when other people don't.

But the presence of a con artist and a stuttering writer are not all I loved about this book.  I loved the writing, the way the author didn't mess around with non-essential scenes.  In fact, the pacing reminded me a lot of Jane Austen -- events that aren't material to the plot get summed up rather than laid out, while conversations that advance character development get set forth in detail.  People like to tout the "rule" of writing that says you should "show, not tell," but the truth is, you CANNOT show everything.  Well, I mean you can, but not if you want people to actually read and enjoy your stories.  You have to know when to slow down and when to speed up, and White totally gets that.

And then there's the love story.  It's so... real.  So slow and hesitant and delectable.

You'd better believe I'm eagerly waiting for the next book, A Song Unheard, to come in at the library for me.

(Mine from Instagram)

Particularly Good Bits:

Nothing like nature's savagery to soothe the beast within (p. 23).

She pasted on a smile so sweet it made his teeth hurt.  And so false he had to wonder if she had a trunk of them in her mind's closet, just ready to be pulled out and put on like a costume (p. 79).

He had never doubted God heard him.  The rest of the world -- they were the ones who couldn't make out his intent through his stammering tongue.  But what must it feel like to doubt that basic truth?  That God heard.  Got answered.  God could be trusted (p. 155).

Silence was a lot like a sibling, she'd decided -- sometimes you didn't want it hanging about, getting in the way.  and other times it was the best companion imaginable (p. 336).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for a bit of violence and danger, as well as some people making vieled remarks implying that people have behaved improperly.  No bad language, no adult content, no gore.


  1. I need this, it sounds so good! Anything with a writer usually gets me too!

    1. Skye, I was rather astounded by how good it was. One of the best books I've read this year, and I've been having a stellar reading year, so that's saying something.


    Roseanna M. White is one of the few shining beacons in the Christian historical novel world. I've read three of her books and liked every single one. I actually loved A Song Unheard even more than A Name Unknown - it was just that good! But now you're making me want to re-read ANU. <3

    Peter is the bessssst. My sweet cinnamon roll.

    1. I can't say this for sure until I've read at least one more book, but I think I like her better than Sarah Sundin :-o

      I simply can't imagine A Song Unheard being better. But I got it from the library and get to start it as soon as I've finished one of my current reads.

      Peter is the best. He just IS.

    2. And for once, I agree with the cinnamon roll assessment. That's him exactly.

    3. I like White's books way better than Sundin's. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it pretty rare for Christian fiction to be set during WWI (mostly it's WWII, I think)?

      Well, I have to say that I'm in the minority with thinking that A Song Unheard is the better of the two so I'm really interested in what you think!

    4. Eva, I think it's more rare for ANY fiction to be set in WWI over WWII. I think that WWII has such clearly defined bad guys that it makes for easier storytelling, whereas WWI was much murkier.

      I like that this book had less romancey stuff than the 3 or 4 I've read of Sundin's. I'm only occasionally in a romancey mood.

  3. Oooh I love the cover! Hearing you enjoyed it so much makes me want to read it now. xD

    1. Melissa, I know, right? It's so... evocative. Like, you can get a sense of the story just from the cover. Which is so hard to achieve! I hope you can read it soon :-D

  4. Great review! I would love to read this book and grab a copy of it. Thanks!

  5. Well since you did a great review on this, I might get a copy of this too. Thank you!


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