Monday, September 26, 2011

Prairie Storm by Catherine Palmer

book cover

Prairie Storm
by Catherine Palmer

ISBN-13: 0-8423-7058-7
Trade Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
Released: 1999

Source: From my personal library.

Book Description, my take:
Evangelist Elijah Book agrees to raise a dying woman's now-orphaned baby, but he has no way to provide the mother's milk the baby needs to survive. When he preaches near Hope, Kansas, a woman from a traveling show agrees to nurse his baby--for money. The locals offer to pay Elijah to be their pastor, so Elijah agrees for the baby's sake. But he's certain God wants him to go to China to preach the Word. Surely that'd be easier than being a small town pastor!

Lily Nolen, a singer in a traveling show, is heart-broken of the very recent deaths of her baby and husband. When she hears a hungry baby's cry, she tracks down the baby and agrees to become his nurse. She adores the baby, but she's also certain the preacher will act just like her religious father--physically abusive and using Scripture to manipulate people for his own gain.

Since God didn't protect Lily like the Bible promises, she wants nothing to do with Him. But then she realizes that the Bible doesn't promise that God will always protect her--just that He will be with her through the storms. But why would a loving God allow suffering and hardship to happen to his followers? Is there reason to trust God, anyway? And what about the preacher that she's discovering is very unlike her father?

My Review:
Prairie Storm is a historical romance set in 1866 in Kansas. This book is the third in the series, but you can read it as a stand-alone. Reading this book before the other will spoil a few events in the previous novels, but not enough to spoil those books.

The characters were engaging, acted realistically, and had realistic struggles (even if some of the struggles weren't common ones). The setting and historical details were not highly detailed though they were enough to paint a mental picture. The suspense was created partly by relationship tensions (and not just romantic tensions--Lily and her old friend, Lily and her abusive father, etc.) and the search for answers about God.

The characters quoted a lot of Scripture and hymns, but it flowed naturally in the story (rather than feeling like it was primarily for the benefit of the reader). Lily knew Scripture well, but she initially used it in a critical way. Both main characters were searching for answers about God and, for the pastor, for God's will in his life. They looked to the Bible for answers since they realized they'd picked up wrong ideas from what religious people had told them. I liked how all of this was handled.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this charming 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
Hope, Kansas

A sudden, high-pitched cry caught Lily Nolan's attention. She sucked in a breath. A baby? Somewhere in the growing darkness, a baby was crying. Lily pushed aside the tent flap and stepped outside, listening. There it came again! Weak but insistent, the wail curled into the marrow of Lily's bones.

Abigail, she thought. Oh, my darling Abby!

No. That wasn't possible, was it? Abby was gone, buried in a little wooden box at the edge of Topeka. But whose baby was crying? Why didn't the mother rock the child?

Read more from chapter one.

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