Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Review: "All Things New" by Lynn Austin

"All Things New" by Lynn Austin is set in post-Civil War-era Virginia and focuses on the months immediately following the end of the war. The Confederacy has just lost the war, the citizens are facing poverty and attempting to pick up the pieces of shattered lives, and deep prejudices continue to come to light.

Josephine Weatherly lost her father and one older brother in the war. Her family may lose their plantation as well with limited resources and no real ability to bring in a cotton crop. Josephine begins to see that life needs to revolve around basic survival, not trying to keep up a facade of life as it was before the war. Her mother, Eugenia, is appalled at the idea of her daughter expressing interesting in tending a garden, sewing, and learning to cook, and she tries to forbid Josephine from having anything to do with "manual labor".

Lizzie is a freed slave who continues to live at White Oak plantation with her family after the war, primarily due to the promise of her children receiving an education thanks to the newly established Freedman's Bureau, run by a former Yankee soldier named Alexander Chandler. Lizzie and her family embrace their newfound freedom, but begin to experience a taste of the extreme difficulties that the freed slaves will face in this new phase of life.

This was a wonderful book that takes a look at different aspects of life during Reconstruction from three different perspectives. I loved how Austin showed the effects of war, bitterness, and hatred, and how the remedy is found in God's healing love and forgiveness. The characters were well-developed and there was just enough suspense to keep the reader engaged to the end. Overall, a good fictional read that focuses on an important and challenging part of American history.

(I’ve received this complimentary book from Bethany House Publishers through the Book Blogger program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

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