Sunday, December 27
Book Review: "Though Waters Roar" by Lynn Austin
by Lynn Austin
From her narrow cot in the town lock-up, Harriett ponders the question, "How did I end up here?" Her grandmother BeBe would be heartbroken. Even though BeBe herself had spent time in jail in her day, Harriett's infraction went against everything her grandmother had fought for.
Through a series of flashbacks, Harriet tries to put in order the stories Grandmother BeBe shared with her throughout the years. She hopes to make some sense of who she is and where she is going is by examining where she came from. Her recollections drop us into the lives of three generations of women in three distinct but overlapping eras.
The author makes history come alive, and I found myself sneaking into the attic with Hannah to take food to a slave family escaping north to Canada, I joined hands with BeBe and her sisters in the Christian Women's Suffragette Union and prayed and sang hymns in front of seedy taverns; I suffered humiliation and discovered humility along with Lucy fighting for the right for women to have a voice and a vote.
The same wise words of advice gleaned from scripture and experience were passed from each mother to her daughter. Each character listened and obeyed, albeit grudgingly.And each saw clearly the truth in her mother's words only after facing a crisis: God orders our steps according to His plan, landing in this place, at this time, for His purpose.
And where does that leave Harriett? She is a simple, unmarried Sunday School teacher, who can't see what God could possibly have planned for her life's purpose.
The female characters are four very different women with complicated family relationships. I was as much enthralled with the familial dynamics and getting to know Hannah, Beatrice and Lucy and their husbands and kin as I was with the historical events that were so accurately and movingly portrayed.
Although Harriet has "top billing" I never felt like I got to know her. By the end of the novel, I finally got a glimpse of who she might become. Maybe that was the intent of the author: a reflection of Harriet herself wondering, "Why am I here?" Not just in this jail cell, but here in God's Kingdom. It's merely a supposition on my part, though, and even if that is the case, her scenes were my least favorite and I was always glad when she drifted into another flashback. Harriett's reminiscences of her foremothers were much better reading than her own story.
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, as well as those who like to get lost in another place and time. Lynn Austin will take you there in Though Waters Roar.
My rating: 4 out of 5
My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a free copy of "Though Waters Roar" for review..
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)