Historical Fiction

Book Review | The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

roadtoparadiseIn 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brayden lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn’t relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills.

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer’s plans might put more than just the park in danger.

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My Thoughts

It’s long been a dream of mine to visit each and every U.S. National Park. When I learned Karen Barnett would be writing a series of books set in three parks around the time of their inception, I hastily added them to my must-read list. The Road to Paradise was my introduction to Barnett’s writing and admittedly I felt an instant connection with the author through her protagonist. Perhaps it’s because Margie and I share a proclivity for praising God as we explore His creation.

Margie, Chief Ranger Ford Brayden, and Mt. Rainier are the main characters of this story. How can a mountain be a character? God uses the mountain to woo the other two characters to Himself. In fact, you’ll find God on virtually every page—entering scenes by way of Margie’s words and thoughts towards Him, and indirectly in Barnett’s descriptions of His handiwork.

Weighty Christian themes are balanced by moments of levity as well as Margie and Ford’s blossoming romance. My first laughs came at Ford’s expense, because he was so irritated at having to accommodate a female in his ranks. As he began to appreciate her skills of observation and impressive knowledge of Rainier’s flora and fauna, I delighted in the playful banter they carried on for the remainder of the book.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the guest post Karen Barnett wrote about her research for this book, I hope you will take the time. Her personal experience as a ranger in Mount Rainer National Park as well as many of the historical details she gained through corresponding with a park curator, add to the story.  I never questioned the historicity, merely the minute detail of Margie’s physical conditioning prior to her 14,411’ ascent. Nevertheless, I am absolutely looking forward to exploring both Yellowstone and Yosemite in Barnett’s forthcoming Vintage National Parks Novels.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion, and I was not required to write a positive review.TRTPCoffee.png…almost. 🙂



You may also enjoy reading the author’s guest post for Authors, Novels & National Parks: Researching Mount Rainier.

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