All Things New by Lynn Austin {book review}


All Things New by Lynn Austin {book review}

With skill and emotion, Lynn Austin brings to life the difficult years of the Reconstruction era by interweaving the stories of three women–daughter, mother, and freed slave–in a riveting tale.

All Things New

Summary:

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.

Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival–and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine’s mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak… but a bitter hatred fuels her.

With skill and emotion, Lynn Austin brings to life the difficult years of the Reconstruction era by interweaving the stories of three women–daughter, mother, and freed slave–in a riveting tale.

My Reaction:

Lynn Austin is one of my favorite authors.  I have read many of her books, and enjoyed most of them.  All Things New is a work of historical fiction set near Richmond, Virginia at the end of the Civil War.  It is very well written. The author doesn’t tell what, if any, of the story is based on fact or actual characters.

I struggled with several characters in the book to the point where I’d like to strangle them.  The characters are fro the most part believable, but few are likable.  My favorite is Otis.  I also like Jo and Alexander.

The details in the book were fantastic, both in character description and the physical surroundings.  The author does a great job of painting the scene.  And there’s plenty of plot and antagonism in the story (no spoilers).  It kept this reader turning pages.  It was hard to put down!

The best part of the story is the parallel rekindling of faith in God and a willingness to take one’s burdens to God in prayer, by two of the main characters.  The dialogue which encouraged this spiritual growth, both verbal and written, and internal thoughts, was cleverly woven into the story, not tacked on.

There’s a great deal of depth in the issues of this book, which are related to the issues of the Civil War.  There’s much food for thought, and discussion, if the reader is so inclined.  This would be an excellent read for anyone studying philosophy of race or sociology of social status.

My rating:  five stars

I highly recommend this squeaky clean historical story with a bit of romance woven throughout to any reader who enjoys a good read about courage and faith in difficult circumstances, real or fictionalized.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

LynnAustinThe Author:  

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Lynn’s blogs about her writing process on her website, which also lists all of her books and links to her social media sites and places to purchase her books.

This review is also posted on Goodreads and christianbooks.com .

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