Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of , having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.
I received a complimentary copy of “Legacy of Mercy” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The Digital Audiobook copy of the novel “Waves of Mercy” was inclusive of the audiobooks I am able to listen to due to my Scribd subscription. My ruminations on behalf of the audiobook (and the borrowed print edition from my local library) which serves as a prequel are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I love reading INSPY Historical Fiction, especially Sagas:
I am a hybrid reader of both mainstream and INSPY Fiction – the kind of stories I love to read are reflective of my ardent passion for the collective works of Julie Lessman (which will start to be reflection on #JLASblog this coming Winter) wherein I discovered one of my favourite INSPY Historical saga writers! Her family within the original trilogy ‘Daughters of Boston’ became such a firm fixture of my heart and soul, I can’t wait to re-enter their lives starting inside the prequel this December wherein I finally get to read Marcy and Patrick’s courtship story! (A Light in the Window)
From there – I could aptly remember stories of my childhood which befit this category – even some one-offs such as Frontier Lady (which became a trilogy lateron) by Judith Pella were quite beloved (a series I dearly need to find second-hand if only to resume from whence I once left off) – whilst as a book blogger I’ve carved out a list of authors I am pursuing to read to curate a greater list of #mustread authors of both Historical and Contemporary INSPY Fiction.
This is why being a part of this blog tour was such a blessing – as I was hoping Ms Austin would become a new author I could continue to read and enjoy following – from a backlist and frontlist perspective of interest! As soon as I began reading Waves of Mercy, I recognised my instincts for finding a saga writer I could love was well founded!
The key reason I love reading sagas (especially of the historical past!) is the continuation of spending time with the characters! Of knitting out a well-rounded history of their families and of being able to stay with them as they grow, mature and move through the milestones of their lives! Oft-times sagas also embrace the next generations of their lives – through their children and grand-children – where each new story is an extension of the originals but moving deeper into their descendants and sometimes shifting backwards into their ancestors lives; depending on which way the writer wishes to take their focus.
I have an affinity of passion for serial fiction – this is why sagas are a wicked good fit for me! I have trouble parting with characters I feel especially close as a kindred spirit and being able to re-visit with them in latter installments if the best kind of joy I know as a reader! By extension, I also love this when it happens in motion pictures – such as the mini-series or tv serials on television or in motion pictures – a few which come to mind are the Love Comes Softly series, Avonlea, Anne with an E, Murdoch Mysteries (up til a certain season), Downton Abbey (up til a certain season), Legacy (prior to the final year), Dr Quinn Medicine Woman (prior to the final few seasons) and most adaptations based on Classical Literature. The one I never had the chance to see (as of yet) is Wind at my Back which is a Canadian series.
These are only a few of the ones I’ve appreciated over the years and I continuously find myself smitten by sagas in fiction – there is such a breadth of joy in seeing how the worlds are built and how the characters themselves become the touchstones of reading about our human condition whilst we sort out our lives as we live each day fully present and captured in the moments which become the memories we cherish in the future.
Haunted by the Unknowns of Their Pasts,
Two Women Search for Answers Along the Shores of Lake Michigan
Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.
Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town's settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.
Past and present collide as Anna and Geesje seek clarity, but neither expects the revelations that await them.
Places to find the book:
Published by Recorded Books
on 4th October, 2016
Length: 14 hours, 15 minutes (unabridged)
Anna is terrified by her nightmares about being aboard a ship during rough weather crossing Lake Michigan from Chicago to the Michigan shore – to such an extent, that when she’s starting to experience this nightmare coming real to life it overtakes her sensibility to separate fantasy from reality. Her thoughts in turmoil over how her boyfriend and her separated – over a disagreement about a church and the beliefs therein are what brought her heart to be torn and spilt between letting go of the past and embracing the future. She was still tucked inside those moments they exchanged and the last fragments of her life she had lived in Chicago – all the while the storms continued to plague her anxieties and the manner in which she was about to arrive via the steamship which was a trial of nerves in of itself.
Despite her mother’s kind assurances and her faithfulness in prayer and the virtues of affirmative thoughts to carry you through the roughest of situations – not even her memories of sermons and easier times could dissuade herself from rolling through afflicted memories which caused her more discomfort. It wasn’t until her ship allowed her disembark did she first find her feet and heart able to ease out of their quaking displeasure to give way towards a calmer beginning on solid ground once more.
This first chapter of the novel I listened to via audiobook – wherein I found the narrator had a pleasant way of bringing Anna to life even though a few of her phrases and wordings felt a bit harder in tone than what was necessary, she aptly described how the churnings of a worried mind could inflict undue duress during a lake crossing aboard a ship which was cast against a difficult storm. I felt she brought Anna’s emotional state to life quite well and allowed us to peer into this young woman’s thoughts in such a way as to make us feel as if we were aboard this ship ourselves, standing near to Anna and observing her discomfort first-hand.
We first become introduced to Geesje as she observes the changes in her town – from communication and lightning changes to simply the way people were approaching their lives. Although she’s still in her sixties, people have the tendency to treat her as modern people would treat the elderly – as if she is fragile and not with a lot of her youth still left to give a spring to her step – yet as you observe her directly, she’s a young sixty-something who loves life, even if the changes round her leave her a bit unsettled as she remembers a simpler time before the complications of industry and progress catapulted everyone forward. How well we can all stipulate the same even over the past thirty to forty years where technology has almost superseded our own lives.
The irony here is how where progress can inflict a nuance in some ways it allows for shortages in others – how ironic Geesje would find it that infrastructure (ie. roads, etc) are still an oversight of progress (left to be the last of priority) and how we’re a disposal society inasmuch as the one she observed in the late 1800s just ahead of the dawning of the 20th Century! She was commenting how in the Netherlands they reused their buildings, cherished their architectural designs and yet, in Holland, Michigan (where this story is set) they would prefer to demolish and rebuild forsaking the old for the new; the irony dear hearts is that our society today in the 21st Century has the same pattern of destruction and reconstruction!
I love how Geesje is a knitter! If only I could one day master the art and complexities of socks, I think I shall be a happier knitter! For now, I appreciate what I can stitch into prayer shawls and friendship shawls – though to be honest, I yearn to aspire to master Fair Isle knitting patterns as much as wearables inasmuch as expound into fibre artist and textile arts of all varieties, techniques and styles. Once your hands enjoy the tactical blissitude of yarn, you find yourself drawn further inside Old World Arts & Crafts – though, of course, what I was most curious over is the pattern she was knitting as the style wasn’t mentioned.
You feel for her, truly! She’s being asked to write about her exodus from the Netherlands and what inspired the journey to Michigan – her family emigrated to the States when she was seventeen, which brought back memories of my own relatives who made the journey from their European countries to the States (as I am only a few generations down from when my relatives crossed the Atlantic inasmuch as I enjoy being an Ancestry Sleuth alongside my Mum) – as she started to talk about her honest emotions and the conflicting ways she struggled against her faith and finally found reconciliation – you could tell the journey to a new country was not without its depths of strife and adversity. It had to be incredibly despairing for her and even my own relatives – as I am sure not every person in every family who made the trip overseas wished to leave their home countries – some perhaps, but all? Surely, not! It was a daunting prospect – leaving everything behind to risk a stake of claim to set down new roots elsewhere? You can just imagine how that would lead to a conflict in faith and prayer – of where you might even feel distanced from your spirituality rather than closer in the walk you always felt endured through your life’s path. Especially of course if the hardest part of reconcile were the circumstances you faced after you arrived – if tragedy struck or affliction of illness took away lives – how do you rally against the darkness to resume your walk in the Light?
This is the conflict Geesje is having now – of weighing how to best explain the past without revealling herself in such a way where she could lose favour with her neighbours, family and friends alike – as if being completely transparent about the journey and the settlement in a new country could somehow become a negative influence or muddled in such a way with emotional anguish as to paint her life’s story in a different light than it was previously viewed. This gave a deeper scope of insight into how everyone is at times hesitative to share portions of their story – of sharing the living truth of their own lives if it runs against what society or community perceive of a person’s life. Where strife and adversity afflict the memories, there are moments where it feels as if absence of disclosure is a better course than honesty; however, it isn’t the best way of leaving behind a historical artifact of the hours lived but a gentler course if you don’t want to erase someone elses perception of the past. It was interesting watching her work through her emotions and sort out her thoughts on the subject – seeing how she chose what was best for her and what might benefit the community of Holland.
Before we can resume Anna’s story, we must first experience Geesje’s through a series of flashbacks and recollective memories. As we move backwards into her childhood in the Netherlands we learn about how her family were Separatists from the main church striving to hold-fast to a living God and not to be confined by the rituals of change ordained by man taking them further away from the scriptures they lived by. For her family, their faith was their rock and foundation of how they approached living – they were tethered to their beliefs as it was as important as air, shelter and food. They believed so dearly strong in their faith their attempts to outwit their opposition and repressive tactics of those who felt they had no right to rebel against the status quo set them apart from most of their family members who despite holding their same thoughts on the subject were not as strong as they were to leave and seek a better place to live.
As your reading about Geesje’s family’s history it reflects back on the stories I’ve read during the World War eras – of how irregardless of which country of origin or which era in history you move back inside – there have been many instances of persecution and violence. The manner in which Austin approaches this realistic truth of Geesje’s past points towards her compassionate heart for writing convicting narrative rooted out of History itself and re-fuelled inside fiction to offer keen insight into lives which were once lived but perhaps are not as readily known as other stories oft-times gain the spotlight more often.
Anna has gone to Michigan to find recovery after her spilt with her ex and to heal a heart which is still in the process of understanding why relationships can splinter a person’s resolve. Her very first day at the hotel she runs into Geesje’s nephew (an adopted one by association and neighbourly love) Derk which didn’t surprise me as this is a close-knit community. I had a feeling this is the kind of place where most know each other quite well if not by reputation and regards to visitors or tourists, I would imagine they would readily separate a stranger from familiar community members rather quickly. Likewise, I was not surprised either when Derk started to mention how many ships have been lost on the Lake – as the Great Lakes are notorious for keeping their dead, especially shipbound souls as the Lakes hold many watery graves. Anna’s fears of drowning were not misguided whims – especially if you consider the song The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.
What perked my interest is learning Anna was adopted – as I love sourcing stories of adoption and foster care story-lines. It was revealled through her conversation with Derk who presumed she was from Holland or had family settled there due to how she appeared to be of Dutch ancestry. I could understand where he was coming from as people from similar origins have the tendency of taking on the same features of each other – from hair colour to eyes, as well as the features which make them stand out from others such as height or bone structure or even how they speak or use certain phrases in their speech. There are little hintings towards our origins without even realising we’re giving away clues to our present or past.
Due to my migraines and my eye injury this October, I wasn’t able to read this story in full – however, the first four chapters were so illuminating towards the arc and journey Anna and Geesje were taking I felt as if I could predict how their lives would start to intersect and unite! It was such a warm-hearted insight into both their lives – especially as it was revealled in this opening bridge of the novel what stirred so strongly inside Anna’s heart – why she felt lost inside her relationship with her fiance and why she ached to learn about her birth parents and the origins of her birth if not strictly the country of her origins. I knew after the fourth chapter I had enough insight to head into Legacy of Mercy as this was tracking into a beautifully lovely saga following in Anna’s footsteps and building on the foundation set forth within Waves of Mercy. At my leisure this Autumn or Winter, I would love to re-explore Waves of Mercy and seeing for myself how Geesje and Anna’s paths finally united, though I suspected I might learn a bit about this as I moved into reading Legacy of Mercy!
She Knew Her New Life Would Not Be Easy,
But Nothing Could Prepare Her For What Waits Ahead
Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can't seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she's learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her discover the whole truth.
But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden. With pressure mounting to keep the past quiet, she discovers daily that her choice to seek God's purpose for her life isn't as simple as she had hoped.
When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje's been helping new Dutch immigrants--including a teen with a troubled history--adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.
Places to find the book:
on 2nd October, 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes (unabridged)
an imprint of Baker Publishing Group
Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
Stories within the series Waves of Mercy:
Book One: Waves of Mercy (prequel) | Pub’d 4th October, 2016
Book Two: Legacy of Mercy
Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #INSPYHistFic, #INSPY or #HistRom
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: