6 October 2016

Review: Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin

Dual Timeline, Dual Impact

It's been a while since I've read a novel by Lynn Austin, and I'm ashamed to admit I'd forgotten what an outstanding author she is. As you can probably guess, I thought Waves of Mercy was excellent.

It's a dual timeline story - I seem to have had a run of these lately, with The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck (excellent), A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas (good), and now Waves of Mercy (outstanding).

The present (!) story is set in 1897 that of Miss Anna Nicholson, who is staying at the Hotel Ottawa on the shores of Lake Michigan to recover from her broken engagement and consider her future. William, her fiance, says he can't marry a religious fanatic like those who attend Mr Moody's church. Yet Anna finds comfort in the church, feels that the words touch and fill an empty part of her soul. She wants to know more about this God they preach about--a God she never hears about in her own upper-class church.

This is also the story of Geesje, one of the original immigrants to Holland, Michigan. She and her family left religious persecution in the Netherlands in the late 1840s to seek a new life in America, and that's the more historic part of the story--Geesje's memories of life in the Netherlands, the voyage to the New World, and establishing the settlement of Holland. But it's also her personal life story, and the story of her struggles with God, especially her relationship struggles.

What joins the two women is Derk, an employee at the Hotel Ottawa, and Geesje's next-door neighbour. He becomes Anna's confidant, and seeks counsel himself from Geesje, a woman full of godly wisdom:

Both stories are fascinating--Anna's, because the search for God is universal, and Geesje's because there is a lot to admire in the early settlers, and a lot we can learn from them. While there are touches of romance, this is more a love story, as both Anna and Geesje are God-seekers, admitedly from different perspectives and from different parts of their lives:
We think Christians should do more than just agree with what the Bible says. We should obey it and do things like loving our enemies.
Lynn Austin is from Michigan and attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and that knowledge of the setting and the people comes through in the writing. It's not obtrusive in any way, but reading the Author's Note at the end gave me the 'aha' moment that explained how she was able to make the setting come alive.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Lynn Austin at her website.

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