Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Woman Named Damaris by Janette Oke

book cover

A Woman Named Damaris
by Janette Oke

ISBN-13: 9780764220180
Trade Paperback: 219 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: June 28, 1991

Source: My personal library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Damaris was almost fifteen on the night she dared for the first time to think of what life might be like away from home. Pa again had come home drunk and mean; that usually meant physical abuse unless he happened to pass out quickly. Her mother subtly suggests to Damaris that maybe she's old enough to manage on her own and can get away from this life. She plans her escape carefully and reluctantly leaves her mother behind.

Damaris flees to the West in hopes that her father won't be able to track her down if she goes so far. In a small, primitive town, she finds work with a woman who helps her find her name in the Bible. Surely that Damaris was special. Her mother had said that she was named for someone from the Bible though she couldn't remember the significance of it anymore. At first, Damaris is disappointed with the brief passage about her namesake, but she comes to realize the significance of what her namesake did as Damaris makes a new life free from old fears.

My Review:
A Woman Named Damaris is a Christian historical novel with some romance. It's set after train travel was available but while a few wagon trains were still active. Some historical and setting information was woven into the story and helped bring the story alive in my imagination.

The characters were interesting, varied, and had realistic struggles and reactions. A low level of suspense was maintained by curiosity about just how things were going to work out for Damaris as she ventured out on her own at age 15. She's a hard worker, but her timidity--especially around men--sometimes got in her way.

There were a few Christian characters and some talk about what Damaris was reading in the Bible as she searched for her name. However, the Christian element flowed naturally from the story. There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of "he cussed" style of bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written, engaging 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.

Excerpt from Chapter One
"Damaris! Damaris!"

Damaris Withers shrank back against the hard boards of the attic wall that supported her back. Pa was home, and she knew by his voice that he had been drinking. She wondered where he had found the money. She wished there was no such thing as money. It brought nothing but woe to the household.

"Damaris!" the man hollered again. "Where is thet girl?" he demanded, a nasty string of profanity following his second outburst.

Damaris shivered. She knew her pa would never find her in her attic retreat, but she never considered staying there. If she didn't go when called, things would not go well for her mother. Her pa would become angry and abusive. If she hurried, he might do no more than lash out with words, but if he became angry... The thought made Damaris shiver again.

Read more from chapter one using Google Preview.


Cozy in Texas said...

Good review.

Genre Reviewer said...

Thank you.

rudo kamba said...

I read this novel and enjoyed so much that I read it thrice, and I still don't mind reading it again. my favorite is when she discovers her name in the bible

Debbie said...

Rudo, it's one of my favorites, too, and I have the same favorite scene. Thanks for taking the time to comment.