Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sixteen Brides

By Stephanie Whitson

This is a story of Civil War widows who set out with the dream of claiming land in Nebraska through the Homestead Act, only to discover they had been tricked by the land agent who had actually promised them as brides to the men in Cayote, Nebraska.

Several of these courageous women stay behind in the up-and-coming town Plum Grove to follow the dream of owning land, a daring prospect for women on their own.

At first it was difficult to keep track of so many primary characters, but as the story unfolds it gets easier. The characters are all very distinct and well-developed. Each comes from a very different background, yet together they make a great team and lifelong friends.

A thread of romance runs through the novel as these ladies begin to move past there lost husbands and begin to notice the local men who have helped them out.

Christian faith and values also come through very strongly in this story.

Life on the Nebraska plains comes alive as the author gives a great peak into the lives of those on the Plains after the Civil War. From raging prairie fires to quilting bees and house-raisings this is historical fiction at its finest.

I will be looking forward to more novels by Stephanie Whitson.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House, however that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hearts Awakening - by Delia Parr

Set in the 1840’s on Dillon Island, a privately owned island and home to an apple orchard on the Susquehanna River, this is a story of a plain spinster (Elvira Kilmer) and a young widower named Jackson Smith. Both are hiding from their past.

Smith hires Kilmer as a housekeeper so he is free to work his apple orchard while she tends to the house and two small boys. Smith quickly sees her as an answer to his problems, yet what he proposes is quite unconventional.

The story is rich in detail, emotion, and faith. The characters are endearing and vibrant. The plot is rich and fairly fast moving. The details of island life during that time come alive in this book.

Unlike much of the Christian fiction of today, this book really is Christian. Faith, forgiveness, and redemption are strong themes throughout.

I would strongly recommend this book to all Christian historical fiction lovers.

I must mention that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Somewhere to Belong - by Judith Miller

Set in the 1870’s in the Christian cooperative community of Main Amana, Iowa this is the story of two young women, Johanna Ilg and Berta Schumacher.

Johanna is a kind, compassionate, and respectful young woman who has grown up in Main Amana. Though she longs to see the outside world she knows her home is Main Amana. She is given the task of training Berta Schumacher in the ways of life in the Amana Community.

Berta is a spoiled and rebellious daughter of a physician who is forced to move to Main Amana when her parents decide a simpler life would be best for all of them.
Berta antics were good for few laughs, but nevertheless the plot was fairly predictable - with one exception near the end.

The characters were rather flat and I really had a hard time connecting with either one of them.

It is clear that the author put a considerable amount of research into this book. There is great detail in the political structure of the colonies. She clearly understood what the gender roles were and how they all worked together as a community. However, there was very little detail in regards to the theology of the people, which would seem to be more important in a Christian Community.

Overall, it was a decent book, but not great.

I must mention that I did receive a complimentary review copy of this book, but that in no way influenced my opinion of it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

She Walks in Beauty

The opulence of the Gilded Era. Splendor, beauty, and extravagance. Elaborate dinners, majestic balls, and fancy gowns.

These are the things that are commonplace in Miss Clara Carter’s life. Clara is a young debutante striving to learn the rules of social engagement in a time when appearance was everything. Tasked by her overbearing Aunt and father with catching the eye of the seasons most eligible heir, Clara finds herself trying to maintain her own identity in a world that defined the worth of a woman by her waist size and her ability to entertain. Her every move ends up in the social columns of New York’s best newspapers. However Clara is an intelligent young woman who would much prefer to continue her education and look to find true love. As young girl her mother had sung “Just as I am” to her many times. Is it possible that God could love her just as she is?

This book has all the makings of a great novel. Well-developed characters that are rich and deep. Just enough mystery to keep you wondering. Friendships that are strained by the pressures of high society. Family secrets, trickery and deceit.

This is the first book I have read by Siri Mitchell, but it won’t be the last.

I must mentioned that I did receive a complimentary review copy of this book, however that did not in anyway influence my opinion of it.