Waves of Mercy
by Lynn Austin
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Oct. 4, 2016
Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Book Description from NetGalley:
Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she's asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.
At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.
Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.
Waves of Mercy is Christian historical fiction. The primary story is set from 1845 to 1897 and follows the life of Geesje, a woman whose family migrated to America for religious freedom. Her family and others who came from Netherlands struggled to build a town out in the wilderness in Michigan.
The historical details about events in Netherlands and during the building of the new town were very interesting and were woven into the story. These events were seen through the eyes of a young woman struggling with why God would allow so much death and suffering in her life. It's a very good story with realistic characters of complexity and depth.
The framing story was about Anna, a young woman in 1897 who felt like she had to choose between God or an excellent marriage with a man she thought she loved. While at a lakeside resort, she strove to learn more about God and in the process became friends with a seminary student. This young man was just learning of Geesje's past and her struggles with faith, and he believed her story might help Anna. Healing is found by all as the past touches on the present.
The 1897 stories were told in first person, present tense. This was one of the few times that I didn't find this device distracting. (Authors usually end up wandering through various tenses rather than sticking to present tense, which I find distracting.) There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.