I am always excited to read a new standalone historical novel by Judith Miller, primarily because she takes fascinating but obscure snippets of history and weaves a captivating story around them. From a girl who paints carousel horses to a father and daughter who travel the country preaching the gospel from a chapel train car, Judith’s stories always promise to teach readers little-known history while simultaneously entertaining them with a wonderful story. It’s a win-win all around! Judith Miller’s newest story from Bethany House Publishers is “The Lady of Tarpon Springs”, which is set in 1905 Florida and centers around the sponge trade… yep, you read that correctly! This is a story of how trained divers (from Greece) arrived in Florida to harvest sponges from deep beneath the surface of the ocean. Although the characters are all fictitious, the details of the sponge business are well-researched and true to history.
While the highlight of “The Lady of Tarpon Springs” for me was the unique setting from history, the story itself, complete with realistic characters and intriguing plot, was also a delight. At first the heroine, Zanna, seemed rather bull-headed and overly forceful, but watching her grow and learn to lean on her faith rather than her own strength was a primary theme of the story. Nico, the hero, was a likeable character from the beginning. His selfless care of the men under his charge was admirable, and the tender romance that developed between Zanna and him was sweet and humorous to witness.
In the end, if you adore unique and well-researched Christian Historical Fiction as much as I do, you won’t want to miss Judith Miller’s newest work. Not only will it provide you with a memorable and endearing story, but you will also enrich your mind by learning about a fascinating facet of history – the sponge trade of the early 1900s!
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”