Love Through All Strife is a quixotic historical novel filled with entertaining episodes.
J. P. Hogan’s Love Through All Strife depicts a rescue mission following a Central American government being overthrown.
Nineteen-year-old Luis Alfonsin is secretary to Don Manuel Rosales, the president of Chuchacamba. Shortly after being enchanted by the president’s daughter, Sofia, Luis is imprisoned on a false accusation. He’s freed by the government’s opposition when Rosales is toppled. Amid the coup, Sofia is kidnapped.
From this eventful, galvanizing setup—all of which happens in the first few chapters—a plot on extreme loyalty unfolds, taking Luis to the hinterlands and back in an effort to bring Sofia home. With unpredictable turns and old-fashioned derring-do, the book captures Luis’s transformation as he goes from leading a civilized life to an increasingly chaotic existence.
The setting evokes the broad, colonial nineteenth century without pinpointing specific contexts for the danger that surrounds Luis. His past allegiance to Rosales threatens the new Rojas regime, but there’s little sense for where Luis stands. The background is a generalized Latin American war that includes instances of corruption, militarized violence, and dialogue that’s rife with banditry. The story is further complicated by the presence of American mercenaries.
Despite chance encounters and timely assistance, Luis is a resourceful figure who gathers strength over time, providing sharp focus amid winding conflicts between Rojas’s forces and various tribes and villagers. He has colorful brushes with memorable characters, including a British Quaker, an elderly ace with a slingshot, and a band of loyal peasants.
A thematic devotion to chivalry undermines the story. Luis endures hardship in hopes of reuniting with Sofia, but this is after only two brief conversations with her. His love for her feels abstract. The story is built on Sofia’s absence, and Luis’s goals are based on a memory of her more than on her characterization. The conclusion is too fortuitous.
The writing is often awkward. Errors, including a lack of Spanish diacritics, missing dialogue tags, and misplaced carriage returns, are distracting. Pivotal moments and emotions are conveyed with exclamation marks.
The novel is best at exploring its lead. Luis’s unflagging will is captured through fascinating descriptions. Through his wild adventures across a variegated landscape, honorable deeds, and roguish, sometimes unfathomable heroics, Luis and his newfound allies reveal the loyalties that form under hardships.
Love Through All Strife is a quixotic historical tale filled with entertaining episodes.
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