This book, as most of the Christian fiction by this author, starts out fairly plebian, even mediocre. I thought it would be like a James Herriot novel...a gentle, 600-page long story about the families centered around a country church. Boy, was I wrong. As with most Xtian fic by Rivers, the gentle beginning with the hack wordage is just a ruse! It is a story about how little by little people can slip into sin...the Devil slides in the needle without the characters noticing. The country church booms and becomes a megachurch...is the blessing from God? Or from someone else? It is well plotted, and even frightening although it is no _Oath_. The motivations of the pastor make sense and there is no deus ex machina to make everything back to happy-normal at the end. Pride has to be chopped down and cast into the fire, forever. Now, since Rivers is a romance writer, there is of course a restored romance at the end...but it does not come without cost.
The most frightening thing about this novel is not how it shows the steady decline away from God and into the hell of self, but that it reflects actual situations. It's not a roman a clef but might as well be one. God save us all.
I enjoyed this book of Christian names (or first names, as none of them are necessarily Christian!) - when I was in my fiction writing stage as a teen, this book provided lists of names arranged under many, many categories: old fashioned, new age, wimpy, manly, androgynous, so far in they're out (circa 1988-1990), and more. You can see what your name is categorized under (Feminine, Feminissima, 75% Masculine, RAF Pilot name?) and see if you agree. A good book for fiction writers who need names, people who like lists of things and for new parents who are wondering what to properly call their bundle of joy.
This story follows the coming of age of three English siblings during the Napoleonic wars, centered on the true event of an apparently drowned soldier who comes back to life after 13 hours of resuscitation by the children's doctor father. Contains a charming glimpse of rural Suffolk life, as well as wartime experience on board ships. Published in 1962 and suitable for grades 4-6.
Anne Rice is famous for her sexual horror novels - but this represents, perhaps, the viewpoint she was meant to have. It is not a substitute for reading the Bible, and not as strong as a novel of Francine Rivers (herself an author who dropped her original genre after accepting Christ), but it is genuine. Protestants, be wary of her Catholic apocrypha and Mariolatry - this book is not gospel. But it is evidence of a sincere heart, "meticulously researched" detail about how a family might have lived and what they might have seen in the Jewish parts of the Roman Empire, and best of all, it is one more person who understands that Jesus is Lord.
My favorite part is the Author's Note at the end where she explains her journey of Catholic schoolgirl to atheist and her gradual return to faith, and how it is damningly clear that there is no possible way the Jews could have survived for thousands of years without supernatural help, and how historical evidence about Jesus affirms that his story could not possibly have been created or believed unless the Bible was factual. I recommend reading this book.