Sunday, January 16, 2011

In My Father's House by Bodie Thoene

book cover

In My Father's House
by Bodie Thoene

ISBN: 1-55661-189-7
Trade Paperback: 430 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: June 1992

Source: Checked out of the library.

Book Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
In the Trenches of France, They Had Fought the War to End All Wars. But the Real Battle Had Just Begun.

From every conceivable culture, men joined together in foxholes to fight World War I--the Great War that would bring the world together in peace, for all time. Jews and Irish, blacks and whites fought side by side and formed bonds of friendship that would tie them together forever. Max Meyer, a Jew from New York; Ellis Warne, an Irish doctor's son from Ohio; Birch Tucker, an Arkansas farm boy; and Jefferson Canfield, the son of black sharecroppers.

Their families rejoiced as one when their sons and brothers and fianc├ęs came home from the battlefield. But even as the Armistice is declared, another battle rages on the undercurrents of racial, religious and cultural intolerance threaten the very foundations of the nation. Will there be any freedom any peace on the home front?

My Review:
In My Father's House is a historical set in 1918 in France and in America at the end of WWI and right after it. The historical details woven into the story brought alive the Western Front and the social turmoil occurring in America as the soldiers returned.

The characters were complex and realistic, and they dealt with realistic troubles (which came by the handful!). While the story wasn't depressing in the way of some I've been reading, it does have a lot of bad things happen to nice people (when they stand up for what's right) and the story ends on a sad note.

The suspense was high throughout the story, and it was created by deadly physical danger to the "good guy" characters and by relationship tensions (both romantic and social). Though the story wasn't fast-paced, this was mainly due to the large number of characters. The author switched between them to show how the different social groups (blacks, Jews, immigrants, etc.) were effected by the social turmoil of the time. Sometimes the author's transitions were abrupt; we'd leave one set of characters in a situation where things looked like they're getting worse, and when we come back to them, we discover that things went fine after that...until now.

Though we have Jews, Catholics, and Protestants in the story, only one character ("Preacher") seemed to view his religion as more than a social thing. Preacher (who was black) did give a couple short sermons, but they were in context of the oppression the blacks were facing. They flowed naturally in the story and weren't sermons directed toward the reader.

I don't recall any bad language. There was no explicit sex. I'd recommend this novel to those who like historical fiction.

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.

Read the first 5 pages of chapter one.


Man of la Books said...

Excellent review. I love these type of books. I'm glad you mentioned that the story wasn't forced but flowed naturally.

Genre Reviewer said...

Man of la Books,

I'm glad you liked the review. Thanks for the comment. It's useful to know what type of information others find useful in a review.