I just finished The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist, who writes historical romance. Set in the early, gold rush days of San Francisco, I get the feeling that Gist is an impeccable researcher. But what really appealed to me about this novel is how real it is.
Although she writes Christian fiction, Gist doesn’t shy away from the more sordid side of life. Main character Rachel Van Buren intends to remain upright and righteous no matter what. Gist bombards her poor heroine with gamblers, prostitutes and a horrific bear-baiting scene–all rendered without blinking an eye. And that heroine? Well, she’s not entirely likeable, but I had to admire her grit in standing by her principles in the face of insurmountable trials.
And there’s my favorite part. Gist acknowledges that some trials are indeed insurmountable this side of heaven. There are no easy answers and while the characters find a measure of peace, they still have to live with their choices.
I used to say I liked happy endings, but what I’m really after is the right ending. Often, there’s a measure of happiness to that, but like life, the best endings are a touch bittersweet.