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To hope is to dream, whether that be the size of a speck or a huge, fantastic longing! Without it, human beings fade from living to merely existing. The characters in Hope Against Hope are so dynamically human in the way they pass through all the cycles of hope that proceed from the head and heart. Saints and sinners in this notable novel are subject to the vicissitudes of history and their own personal strengths and weaknesses that embody hope against hope on every page.
Meet Carrie and May, two sisters thrust out of their home, attempting to surmount devastating poverty and mistaking temporary separation as abandonment. Each, however, has a very unique talent to develop through hard work but dependent on the people and events they meet in the mid-1800s. The possibility of love looms large initially but becomes repeatedly thwarted due to characters who live the negative aspect of the title, for there is a way to self-sabotage hope that at times is deliberate and at other times is unconsciously rearing its ugly head for other central characters like Alex and Charles, a railroad engineer and physician. Add the historical realities of the coming of the railroad to England and Europe, as well as the first beginnings of revolution in Paris, France. Sally Zigmond fashions central characters who refuse to be stereotyped and who develop as strongly as their female counterparts. Guilt over past actions threatens to stymie any sense of fulfilling original dreams for all involved, but hope never dies, thank goodness!
What would a great novel be, as well, without selfish, wicked characters who are so narcissistic that they not only plot the downfall of our heroines and heroes but wind up self-destructing in scenes that are sometimes comically absurd and at other times dastardly evil? A child comes, goes, and returns in poignant scenes that leave the reader practically aching for a benign ending, for what is the future of a child who doesn't even know she is hoping against hope?
Sally Zigmond has fashioned a tale that one doesn't want to end, an old-fashioned historical novel that is part thriller, part romance, part mystery, part social commentary and so much more!
Get ready for a stunning read! Hope Against Hope is a best seller, for sure!!! Read it and recommend to everyone you know who loves a grand reading experience!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on April 12, 2010