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Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of "Isabel", by E. L. Schoeman

Posted in Equestrian News, Home Page articles, Reviews

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of

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Originally published in the March 2014 Edition of The Rider

By Jill Nagel

It’s always great to see a hometown girl succeed and E.L. Schoeman is doing just that. The twenty-four year old, who grew up on Prima Farms outside of Caledonia, Ontario, is bringing her love of horses and heroes to life in her debut novel, “Isabel.”

“Isabel” is set in a rich world of matchmaking and marriages and centres around a young noblewoman who is striving to find her place, herself, and her happiness. The titular protagonist is anything but ordinary. Like Schoeman herself, Isabel loves to feel the wind in her hair as she rides through the fields on her favourite mare. She would rather stay in the comfort and company of the stables than in her adoptive father’s (William), home. She enjoys horse-riding, sword fighting, and prefers to choose her own path, whether in life or in love. When Sir John (William’s jousting partner) returns, Isabel is pressured to become the lady she was always meant to be—but will this mean giving up love, her life, and friendship in the process?

“Isabel” is a unique take on a well-tread genre, and while it begins with a traditionally upbeat feel, the tone quickly shifts to something darker. Isabel enters a world of spying and intrigue, where everyone knows the secrets of her past except for her. Schoeman weaves a tale with surprising twists and an ending so shocking you’ll be flipping back pages to make sure you read it correctly.

Like many debuts, the beginning of Schoeman’s story gets bogged down with too many names and characters, which affects the reader’s ability to dive in head on. I would have liked a little more back-story or set up to ground these characters in their world before Isabel and Mathew begin their journey. Still, the novel is well worth the time. Schoeman creates a likeable and believable protagonist and sends her readers on an emotional adventure. Like her character, E.L. Schoeman is coming into her own, finding her voice, discovering who she is as an author. It is obvious that she has may more ideas just waiting to be put down on paper. Health issues and educational roadblocks couldn’t stop this exciting new author from fulfilling her dreams. I, for one, can’t wait to see what she come out with next.

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