23 March 2012
Review: Hearts that Survive by Yvonne Lehman
Lehman has a unique ability to capture the nuances of emotion in her writing, to change her style and tone to reflect the emotions of her characters. This made for difficult reading at times, particularly in the passages after the sinking, when both women were coping with their grief in their own way. The scene inside the ship as she went down was beautifully and sensitively written, with a sad nobility that reminded me of the scene where the Towers come down in Kingsbury's 9/11 novel, One Tuesday Morning. The sinking scenes themselves were confusing, with too many people, too many points of view. But even this gave it a sense of realism, particularly as some scenes showed men and women at their most noble, and others behaving in quite the opposite manner.
After the tragedy, the tone of the writing changes, with subtle differences between Lydia and Caroline's points of view highlighting the differences between them. Frankly, I found the portions from Lydia’s point of view to be depressing. Craven was controlling and manipulative at a time when Lydia did not have the strength to stand up to him, and I didn’t like that, either. So, overall, this was not a novel I particularly enjoyed. The story dragged too much in places, some of the word choices felt out of place, the story changed focus from Lydia to Caroline, and parts of it were confusing with too many characters. But underneath all that, Hearts That Survive has some brilliant writing with some profound spiritual insights, which I appreciated.
For example, at one point, Caroline is thinking that “Out there, she’d seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds calling on God and Jesus to save them. He didn’t.” This made me think, because it seems so out of character for a Christian novel. I decided Caroline was wrong. God did save them. But we, as humans, often confuse the physical with the eternal. He has promised to save all who believe and call upon Him, just as He has promised us healing. But not all of these promises are fulfilled in this mortal life. God may not have saved the bodies of those crying out to Him, but he did save them, just as He saves those who cry out to Him today.
What do you think?
Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.