Review of: The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof
Winner of the ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award, Bischof brings fans of historical romance another tale that is sure to garner more critical acclaim. She deftly weaves different perspectives and time periods together through the interconnected stories of Juniper in 1902 and Johnny in present day Kenworthy, California. Juniper is a young mother trying to survive in a ghost town following the collapse of the gold mine industry. Her husband, John Cohen, has been missing for months after leaving Kenworthy to search for gold at another mine. Juniper refuses to believe he is dead and writes him letters recounting the desolation of life and struggles of those who remain in the abandoned town. Her friend Edie is pregnant by a Mexican immigrant known by the name Santiago. Juniper is shocked when she learns that John has been arrested and is awaiting trial for “salting” gold mines, ie. firing a gold nugget into a mine to spread flecks of gold in order create the illusion of profitability. She feels betrayed by a man she thought she knew and loved. Her life is turned on its head again when John is released from prison and arrives on her doorstep.
Meanwhile, in present day Kenworthy, Johnny, a young father going through a painful divorce, buys a dilapidated historic house in need of major renovations. He discovers a box containing the diaries of John Cohen that detail the heavy burden of shame he carries and his love for Juniper and his child. Johnny meets Sonoma del Sol, a researcher who is doing genealogical work and has ties to a photograph found in the house of her ancestor, Santiago del Sol. As they learn more about the history of the gold-mining town, they develop a friendship that blossoms with the potential for romance.
Bischoff tells the heart-wrenching stories of these characters against a vividly painted backdrop of history, and shows how faith helps them discover forgiveness, healing, and new beginnings. Riveting!!! Starred review.