Name of Book
The Hostage by Susan Wiggs
Fiction or non-fiction?
Type of book
Historical romance set in the 19th century Chicago fire on October 8th 1871. Described on the back of the book as "one small spark ignites the entire city of Chicago, sending its residents into panic but amid the chaos, a chance encounter leads to an unexpected passion".
Deborah Sinclair, an heiress to her wealthy father, is determined to refuse the high-class society marriage he has arranged for her. She is unaware of the fire sweeping towards them but a stranger appears and as fire consumes the elegant mansion she calls home, she is taken hostage, by Tom Silver in a revenge attack on her father.
Deborah Sinclair - a rich heiress to her father's fortune, she is in the beginning of the book shown to be a fairly selfish person with no real knowledge of the hardships "ordinary" people have to face day in day out, she can't even dress herself without the help of a maid. However, she is forced to survive with just her own resources once Tom Silver captures her. During the fire, she manages to escape him briefly and rescue a dog. Her adventures lead her to a very different place, where she finds the reason for Tom Silver's fierce condemnation of her father and why she was taken hostage.
Tom Silver is described in chapter 2 as "arriving in Chicago with murder on his mind" and is determined to wreak his revenge on Arthur Sinclair, who was responsible for the death of Asa, a boy who lived with Tom on Isle Royale. Tom is a clever, skilled, former soldier who now works for a living sailing, fishing and hunting. He kidnaps Deborah Sinclair, hoping to force Arthur Sinclair to Isle Royale to face up to his responsibilities, after his murder plot goes horribly wrong.
Philip Ascot, Deborah's fiancé is referred to in the beginning as the most wonderful catch a girl could have, but Deborah comes to realise that this may not be the case and he may only be marrying her for her money. He is described as handsome, clever, witty but underneath all this you get the impression that all is not as it seems, as proves in the final few chapters of the book. I can say no more - I wouldn't want to give the whole story away! Deborah meets him briefly in her escape from Tom Silver and he returns at the end of the book. However, most of what we learn about this character is from what other characters say of him.
Arthur Sinclair, Deborah's father, is a rich man in wealth, but whose wife has died leaving him a lonely broken man who would rather marry his daughter off to a high-class man, than to someone she loved. He is depicted as a miser, who is not prepared to educate his daughter in the ways of the world, but how society dictates. She is sent to a finishing school (Miss Boylan's) and taught how to impress a man, not any useful skills.
Lightning Jack, Tom Silver's sailing and drinking partner on The Suzette boat, who has to assist Tom in returning to Isle Royale with his hostage, Deborah. A gentle man who is prone to the odd rage, he keeps a kindly eye on both Tom and Deborah. He is the person who tells Deborah more about the reasons for Tom's anger. He rescued Tom, when he was found next to his dead mother.
Other characters are brought in to illustrate points, like the ones at the beginning of the book who are Deborah's friends and maid, and the Isle Royale inhabitants. The former showed the reader about Deborah's upbringing, expectations, fears and hopes. Whilst the Isle Royale inhabitants showed the huge difference between her world and theirs, and also how much she didn't know about the world, work, feelings and aspirations.
Deborah and Tom are forced to live together in close proximity first on the boat The Suzette and then on Isle Royale, until the winter comes and the whole island population moves onto the mainland to survive the ice storms. However, a problem occurs and Deborah is left behind. She is then forced to survive on her own, until Tom is able to return to rescue her. As the back page states "as winter imprisons them together, she finds herself a hostage to her heart".
Would you read anything else by this author?
Yes, I already have, The Firebrand and The Drifter I found that both books are extremely good and found it very hard to put either down and consequently had many late nights until I had completed them both. However, I found that this was perhaps the best yet.
In my humble opinion, I believe that The Firebrand is better than The Drifter, but this is even better than the Firebrand, which is set in the same Chicago fire. My favourite part is where Deborah is trying to escape Tom in the fire. However, I loved the ending too, and tears were streaming down my face, but I can't tell you anything about it as it would spoil the various twists and turns in this wonderful historical romance.
Paper back or hard back?
I have only got a paper back version, but may be available in hard back.
Mira Books, which is a registered trade mark of Harlequin Enterprises. First published in 2001. Printed and bound in Spain by Litografia Roses, SA, Barcelona.
Mira Books, Eton House, 18-24 Paradise Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1SR.
Other books by this author
The Firebrand, The Mistress, The Drifter, The Charm School, The Lightkeeper and The Horse Master's Daughter. (See my other reviews by this author - The Drifter and the Firebrand).
Susan Wiggs was educated at Harvard and became a mathematics professor before turning to writing full time. She has a website www.susanwiggs.com
£5.99 on the back of book, IR £7.70, I bought mine from work; we have a shelf for used books where we give a donation to charity.
What book/magazines am I currently reading?
Take a Break magazine, Practical Family History magazine, Mirror newspaper, Derbyshire Times, and a book about a Dalziel and Pascoe murder, which I keep in the car to read when I am waiting for people to get ready. I can read several books at once and still remember my place in each of them without confusing the storylines.