About the Book
Title: On the Rails
Author: Linda Shenton Matchett
Genre: Historical Romance
Release date: February 6, 2017
Warren, Ohio, 1910: Katherine Newman loves being a teacher, but she loves Henry Jorgensen more, which is why she’s willing to give up her job to marry him. But instead of proposing, Henry breaks up with her. Devastated, Katherine seeks to escape the probing eyes and wagging tongues of her small town. A former Harvey Girl, Katherine’s mother arranges for Katherine to be hired at the Williams, Arizona Harvey House. Can she carve out a new life in the stark desert land unlike anything she’s ever known?
Henry Jorgensen loves Katherine with all his heart, but as the eldest son of a poor farmer can he provide for her as she deserves? The family’s lien holder calls in the mortgage, and Henry must set aside his own desires in order to help his parents meet their financial obligation. But when Katherine leaves town after their break up, he realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Can he find her and convince her to give their love a second chance?
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I was so intrigued when I read the synopsis of this book. I haven’t read a story about the Harvey Girls, and I really wanted to see what they were all about. Knowing how faithful Matchett is to research before writing her books, I knew I could count on her to show me the details I was dying to read.
As I began reading, I found myself drawn to Katherine’s character. I could actually see myself daydreaming just like she had in the schoolhouse. I must admit that she surprised me in the restaurant scene (I won’t give it away). What surprised me most, however, was the way she handled herself when she arrived at the Harvey House. Based on what I read of her in the beginning, I didn’t think she was going to make it. Katherine proved me wrong, and I found myself cheering for her! Sure she made some mistakes, mostly when a certain young lady came to work there from her town, but she learned from them.
Then I reached about the halfway point of the book and suddenly the dynamics changed for me. I can’t really describe it, and it broke my heart because I thoroughly enjoy Matchett’s stories. Dare I say it was almost like I was reading two stories mushed together? It came after Katherine found the Lord. Almost like someone turned a switch and the only thing readers would find is Katherine sharing the gospel with every person she came in contact with. Now, I am all about spreading the gospel. I love authors who can easily weave the theme in their stories. But here it almost felt forced, preachy, or something. I can’t quite put my finger on it. And those that admitted to her that they had come to know the Lord as well didn’t quite feel right.
I found myself wishing Katherine were back to Harvey House Katherine, and wanting to find out even more about her time there. I really enjoyed those scenes and wish there had been even more. Would I recommend this book to others? Yes. There were several good elements in it, and what seems preachy to one person may not be to another. I’d love to hear what you think after you read it!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her live. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.
Guest Post from Linda
My husband and I were fortunate to be able to take a trip to Arizona several years ago. Having been born and raised on the east coast, I was enamored with the distinctive beauty of the state, from the saguaro cacti of Phoenix and red rocks of Sedona to the volcanic landscape of Flagstaff and multi-colored bands of the Grand Canyon.
But what intrigued me just as much as the area’s beauty were the stories about the women who migrated to the state to work for the Fred Harvey Company. Upon our arrival at the Grand Canyon we came upon the El Tovar Hotel, one of the few remaining Harvey Houses. We were given a bit of literature explaining the history of Mr. Harvey and his restaurants, and the more I read, the more I wanted to know.
As it turns in the late 1800s, food was not available to travelers riding the railroad lines, so when the trains made extended stops, passengers would get off and eat at the restaurants located near the stations. From all reports, the dining experience was sketchy at best, with frequent stories of indigestion and food poisoning.
Enter English immigrant and restauranteur, Fred Harvey. Securing a contract with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, he began with two facilities. However, finding reliable employees proved to be difficult. A high percentage of the employees (all men) would use their paycheck to purchase liquor and then did not return to work for several days. At his wits end, Fred decided to hire women to act as his waitresses, but the concept was a tough sell. The only women in the hospitality industry worked in saloons and had scandalous reputations.
Fred set up dormitories overseen by a House Mothers and implemented a set of rules that included curfews, restrictions on dating, and dress codes. He ran advertisements in the large east coast newspapers. It was not long before candidates came knocking. The reasons they gave for wanting to be a Harvey Girl were as diverse as the girls. Some were looking for adventure, others needed to help fill the family coffers, while a number of them needed to get out of difficult situations ranging from domestic abuse to failed engagements.
Thanks to Fred and his restaurants, most of the 100,000 Harvey Girls found financial stability, confidence, happiness, and/or love. It is my hope that On The Rails commemorates these gals and their intrepid spirits.
Just the Write Escape, January 31
Blossoms and Blessings, February 1
Mary Hake, February 1
Bibliophile Reviews, February 2
Texas Book-aholic, February 3
Connie’s History Classroom, February 4
Janices book reviews, February 5
The Mimosa Blossom, February 6
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 6
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 7
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 7
A Baker’s Perspective, February 8
Moments, February 9
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 9
Vicky Sluiter, February 10
Through the Fire Blogs, February 11
Carpe Diem, February 11
Godly Book Reviews, February 12
margaret kazmierczak, February 12 (Interview)
Maureen’s Musings, February 13
Bigreadersite, February 13
To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8a4/on-the-rails-celebration-tour-giveaway