Judith Miller. The Lady of Tarpon Springs. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2018.
This summer has been incredibly busy, especially with my extensive TBR (to-be-read) pile growing more by the week. Fortunately, I caught up somewhat over the last week, so my pile is back to a more reasonable size.
In The Lady of Tarpon Springs, Zanna Krykos challenges her family’s expectations when she passes the bar exam and becomes a lawyer in their town of Tarpon Springs, Florida. When her friend Lucy unexpectedly loses her father and finds herself inheriting a barely-established sponge business, Zanna volunteers her services to manage the business on her friend’s behalf. Soon after, fifty Greek men arrive in Tarpon Spring, ready to begin the area’s first sponging expedition. As one of the few Greeks in the area, the Krykos family help these men and their manager, Nico Kalos, adjust to life in Florida. Facing unanticipated challenges to the fledgling business, Nico and Zanna work together to manage their crews and make Lucy’s sponge business a great success.
Ms. Miller explores the fascinating world of early twentieth-century sponge businesses, bringing her readers along to the Gulf coast. The historical details surrounding the process and those involved are definitely one of the highlights of this book!
Overall, I found the premise of The Lady of Tarpon Springs to be quite unique. Ms. Miller’s focus on the details of the sponging business and the work of the divers and tradesmen were particularly fascinating aspects of this book. Likewise, I enjoyed reading about Tarpon Springs, as it serves as a very different kind of setting than found in many other Christian historical fiction novels. I also found some of the characters to be quite interesting, especially Nico and his crew of Greek spongers. However, I was not a particular fan of the structure of the novel. I found the front half of the book to have a slow pace and repetitive dialogue, while the ending seemed somewhat abrupt. I would have expected a stronger overall story from such an esteemed novelist, but I’m confident that many of Ms. Miller’s long-time fans will be quite happy with this book.
Fans of Ms. Miller’s other works will likely enjoy reading The Lady of Tarpon Springs. Likewise, those who enjoy Christian historical fiction may also find this novel worth reading.
Special thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for the complimentary copy of The Lady of Tarpon Springs! Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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