Clara's Way


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
247 Pages
Reviewed on 06/24/2020
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Author Biography

After a rewarding career in health care, Roberta R. Carr became a full-time writer. She enjoys creating slice-of-life stories that that will entertain you, as well as stir new thoughts. Her travel experiences usually weave their way into the plots.

She has published five novels: The Vernazza Effect, The Foundation, The Bennett Women, The Things We Don't Say, and Clara's Way. She also co-wrote The 8th Field Hospital with her husband and co-wrote the children's book Vanessa's Rotten Day with her granddaughter when she was ten-years-old.

Roberta lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband, Andy.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Clara’s Way is a work of fiction in the historical, romantic, and personal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Roberta R. Carr. Set in 1904, our protagonist is Clara Tyler, who goes along quite happily in her work as a nurse in Ohio. But when her sick brother begs her to come and collect him from his work site on the Panama Canal, Clara must pluck up her courage and venture out into the unknown. What follows is a tale of new discoveries, new identities, and romance set against the backdrop of a less well-known but impressive part of world history.

Author Roberta R. Carr delivers many excellent qualities within this rich work of historical fiction, engrossing us in an emotive tale but also exposing and educating on lesser-known facets of historical importance at the same time. The commitment to a sense of period is clear even from the first few pages, grounding us in the early twentieth century with all its strictures on women and how they ought to live. This makes Clara an even more inspiring and relatable heroine as she takes on the big wide world alone, and her journey and exploration is one that warms the heart through Carr’s close narrative and expressive language usage. I also found the dialogue to be utterly charming, characterizing different figures and stirring up lots of emotions. Overall, I would highly recommend Clara’s Way to fans of immersive historical fiction that is well researched and exceedingly well penned.

Deborah Lloyd

Clara Tyler loved being a nurse in rural Ohio, assisting the local doctor by visiting patients in their homes. When her older brother Samuel sent a telegram to the family, her life changed dramatically. Samuel, a railroad engineer, had left four months earlier to work on the Panama Canal construction. He was now very ill and urgently requested Clara to come and accompany him home. When Clara reached the Panama Canal Zone, she was shocked by the appalling conditions. Soon, she was faced with many difficult circumstances, both in providing medical care to the many men affected by disease and by some personal challenges. The historical fictional work, Clara’s Way, written by Roberta Carr, is an enlightening perspective on the building of this famous waterway.

There is a great deal of information about the hazardous obstacles facing the managers and laborers. The author also skillfully blends a cast of interesting characters; some are real people who had a major role in the construction and others are fictional characters. The character of Clara is especially intriguing, as she struggles with her commitments to family and an engagement against the demands of caring for men afflicted by tropical diseases. In 1904, the lack of choices for an independent woman is clearly described. Additionally, her use of prayer and spiritual guidance for decision-making is also appropriate to the era. Author Roberta Carr has brought the historical event of the building of the Panama Canal to life in her novel, Clara’s Way. It is compelling and informative, a not-to-be-missed book!

Lucinda E Clarke

The setting for Roberta R Carr’s book, Clara’s Way, is unusual – the building of the Panama Canal. It is 1905 and Clara leaves her home farm in Ohio and takes the hazardous sea voyage to Panama to bring her sick brother back to the family. His condition is far worse than she expected and then she herself falls ill with yellow fever, further delaying her return. Fate takes a hand and Clara, a qualified nurse, stays on to work at Ancon hospital. Her previous experience acting as a district nurse in rural Ohio has not prepared her for the tropical diseases, the appalling conditions, and the lack of supplies and the mounting deaths. She meets friends and foes, many based on real historical people, and finds love in the most unlikely place. She is caught between doing what she loves, tending the sick, and her duty to her family and her fiancé who keep urging her to return home.

The character of Clara in Clara’s Way by Roberta R Carr is so well drawn I felt as if I had met her in real life. I was impressed too with the description of the Panama region and the conditions suffered by those who labored to cut a path through the ten miles between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to build the canal. The reader is drawn into an era, only a little over a hundred years ago, in the days before antibiotics and the accepted belief in the transmission of disease through mosquito bites. We bond with Clara as she and the doctors fight to save lives, working twelve-hour shifts, and longer. The book also highlights the attitude towards women, basically the property of their husbands, with limited chance of careers, and the expected filial duty to their patriarchal-led families. It reminds the reader of how much has changed in a century. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend this as an excellent mirror of a time in history.