Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of more than twenty novels and novellas. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the International Digital Award. She loved traveling to England to research her latest Edwardian novels, including No Ocean Too Wide, Across the Blue, and the Edwardian Brides Series. Her novels have been translated into several languages and enjoyed by readers around the world.
In this interview, Carrie talks about her new book, No Journey Too Far.
FF: No Journey Too Far arrives as the much-anticipated sequel to No Ocean Too Wide. What unanswered questions from the first book can readers hope to see resolved in this thrilling conclusion?
When No Ocean Too Wide ended, Grace, the youngest McAlister sibling, was still missing in Canada. Garth’s future was also uncertain as Laura and Katie returned to England. Would Garth be required to remain in Canada and fulfill his indentured contract, or would he be freed and allowed to return to England?
Ten years have passed when No Journey Too Far opens. Grace is still missing from the family, and Garth has returned to England after fighting in the Great War. With this book, I wanted to explore the issues British Home Children faced as they became young adults and finished their indentured contracts. How did they overcome prejudice and strike out on their own? Were they able to be reunited with siblings and other relatives? What role did their faith play in their lives? These were the questions I had in mind as I wrote the rest of the McAlisters’ story.
FF: What inspired you to write the McAlister Family Series?
I saw a photograph on Facebook of a group of poor children that tugged at my heart. I followed the post back to the British Home Children’s Advocacy and Research Association Facebook Group, where descendants connect to exchange information to learn more about this child emigration program and how it impacted their relatives. Many of my books are set in England during the time period these children were being sent to Canada. As I read more about their individual stories, I knew this was a part of history that needed to be told, so I set out to create a fictional family and base their story on true events that happened to British Home Children.
FF: You do a lot of research when writing historical novels. Did you learn anything especially surprising or interesting when researching for No Journey Too Far?
Some British Home Children were adopted and well treated, but I learned that 60% of the children were neglected and/or abused. I realize this was a different time, but it’s still very hard for me to understand how people could treat children so poorly. There was little screening done of those who took in the children. Most only had to fill out a form and pay $3 before they could take a child home and treat them however they liked. The children often lived on farms that were scattered across the countryside, and there might only be one official “visitor” a year who would check on them.
FF: What can you tell us about British Home Children? Was there really such a stigma against them?
During the 1800s when the industrial revolution took place in Britain, many people moved into the cities. Some found work, but others lived in poverty. Many children suffered and ended up as orphans living on the streets or in workhouses. In an effort to help the children, well-meaning people opened children’s homes. But there were so many needy children, and the homes soon realized they couldn’t care for them all, so they began sending groups of children to Canada to be taken in as indentured workers—the boys as farm laborers and the girls as domestics (household help). A few were adopted, but most had to work long hours in difficult conditions. Canadians knew these children came from poverty and that some were illegitimate, and so there was a strong prejudice against them. At that time, many people believed the sins of the parents were passed on “in the blood,” and they were suspicious of these children. Because of this treatment, many of the British Home Children kept their background a secret when they grew up and never told their own children or friends how they came to Canada. It was difficult to overcome that treatment, and it impacted many of them for life.
FF: Who was your favorite character to write? Which character did you resonate with the most?
My favorite character to write was Grace McAlister Hamilton. She represented one of the few British Home Children who were adopted and taken in by wealthy couples. But Grace’s adoptive parents insist she keep her background a secret, and she is torn by that request. I could imagine how difficult it was for Grace to remember her siblings and her life in England and wonder why they had not tried to find her in ten years. At the beginning of the novel, she is about to turn eighteen and is preparing to launch into Toronto society, and the need to know who she really is and what that means for her future is an important issue for her.
FF: The characters in this novel experience a lot of challenges and hardships on their individual journeys. How might their fictional stories provide hope and encouragement for readers who might be facing difficulties in their own lives?
Each of the main characters in this story faces struggles and challenges, and they must make choices about how they will respond. I think that’s what makes a story meaningful. I hope readers will connect to the characters and see how their faith is woven into their lives in practical ways.
Grace shows courage and determination in seeking out the truth so she can be reunited with her family. But she also must learn to understand the perspective of her adoptive parents and forgive them for past hurts. Garth must overcome his anger regarding the harsh treatment he received from the farmer he worked for before the war, and he must trust the Lord to lead him to find his missing sweetheart, Emma. Those are just a few of the challenges the characters face. I hope each one is an example that will speak to readers’ hearts and challenge them to apply their faith in practical ways.
FF: One of the traits that makes this novel so delightful is the attention to historical detail. Are there specific places you’ve traveled to that helped inspire the various locations, both in Canada and England?
Much of this book was written during the pandemic of 2020, so travel wasn’t an option. But we are blessed to live in an age when the internet makes it possible to learn about any location in the world. I used Google search and Pinterest to help me picture many of the places in the story. I have a Pinterest board for each of my books. That’s where I collect helpful images. Many of those images relate back to research articles, including everything from World War I veterinarians to Scottish piper bands! I contacted three Canadian author friends who helped me check my facts and learn more about the various locations in Ontario, Canada. I’ve been to England several times in the past for research trips, and I used some of the things I learned on those trips to bring Bolton House near St. Albans to life.
FF: The novel opens as Garth McAlister is returning from serving in World War I. What can you tell us about the involvement of British Home Children in the Great War?
Many young men who came to Canada as British Home Children volunteered to serve in the Canadian military during World War I. For some, it was an opportunity to leave the farms where they had been working under an indentured contract and travel to England on their way to the front. Some were able to seek out relatives before they went off to fight. It put them on equal footing with other young men and helped them prove they were no different from anyone else. Many were proud to serve, and many died in battles in France. When those who survived returned to Canada, they were seen as heroes instead of simply as British Home Children.
FF: As a foster adoptive parent yourself, describe what it meant to you personally to convey a story about children separated from their families and sent far from home.
My background as a foster adoptive parent gave me unique insight into both sides of the story. I could easily imagine what it was like for the adoptive parents to take a child into their home, and I could also step into the shoes of the adopted child because of the experiences in our family. Our two youngest daughters, who are twins, were adopted into our family when they were three. They are grown now and are a huge blessing to us.
Foster care and adoption are wonderful opportunities for parents and children, but there are also special challenges that go along with them. I hope this story will highlight some of those and help readers understand the challenges and blessings.
FF: What do you hope readers will take away from reading this book?
I hope readers will be inspired and entertained as they are swept away to 1919 England and Canada. I also hope they’ll learn more about British Home Children and understand some of what they had to face and overcome as they grew into adulthood and set out to build lives of their own. My desire is to honor their memory and keep their stories alive in our hearts.
Most of all, I hope readers will see God loves them and desires to help them through whatever struggle or hardship they are facing. He is always there to offer comfort, direction, encouragement, and hope.
No Journey Too Far
McAlister Family Series #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 8, 2021
ISBN-10 : 0525652957
ISBN-13 : 978-0525652953
A family long divided, a mysterious trunk, and a desperate journey across the ocean—all in the name of love. The epic saga of the McAlisters continues in this riveting sequel to No Ocean Too Wide.
In 1909, Grace McAlister set sail for Canada as one of the thousands of British Home Children taken from their families and their homeland. Though she is fortunate enough to be adopted by wealthy parents, the secrets of her past are kept hidden for ten years until someone from her long-buried childhood arrives on her doorstep. With this new connection to her birth family, will she be brave enough to leave her sheltered life in Toronto and uncover the truth?
After enduring hardship as an indentured British Home Child, Garth McAlister left Canada to serve in World War I. His sweetheart, Emma Lafferty, promised to wait for his return, but after three long years apart, her letters suddenly stopped. When Garth arrives home from the war to unexpected news, he is determined to return to Canada once more on a daunting mission to find the two women he refuses to abandon—his long-lost sister and his mysteriously missing sweetheart.
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