Now Face to Face

Written by Karleen Koen
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In 1721, Barbara Montgeoffry, Countess Devane, newly widowed and mourning the death of her brother as well, travels to her grandmother’s Virginia plantation. Barbara’s husband has been ruined in the South Sea bubble, and she has traveled to Virginia to make a new beginning on the advice of her grandmother.

Moving between Virginia and England, to which Barbara eventually returns, Now Face to Face is a panoramic novel with a large cast of characters, historical and fictional alike. It’s full of intrigue, and Koen handles the complex politics of the day with assurance and depicts this time period vividly. I must say, however, that I never really warmed to either Koen’s prose style, which I often found overwrought, or to Barbara herself, whose admirable qualities and beauty are too often commented on by the author and by other characters for my liking. But this is mainly a matter of taste, and other readers may not be bothered by this at all. I also suspect that I would have enjoyed the novel more had I first read its predecessor, Though a Glass Darkly, which shares a number of characters with Now Face to Face.