Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Though Waters Roar (2009)

I have a history of not reading the book descriptions from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program very closely before requesting the books -- I basically request anything that looks vaguely interesting and let the LibraryThing algorithms decide what to send to me. I remember seeing that Lynn Austin's Though Waters Roar was historical fiction (which I love) and didn't realize until I received it that it is Christian historical fiction. Hmmm. I wasn't very hopeful, but I figured I would give it a try since they were nice enough to send me a free copy.

This is a multi-generational novel telling the story of three women who combine their faith with a struggle for social justice in three of the big movements of the late-19th / early-20th century: anti-slavery, temperance, and woman's suffrage. The story is told by the youngest woman in the family, Harriet, who thinks back on the stories she heard from her mother and grandmother as she cools her heels in a jail cell in 1920 (the reasons for which are pretty nicely hidden until the end of the novel).

The characters are engaging and the plot moves along nicely -- the book really is well written, although conventional. The emphasis on Christian faith is integrated into the characters and not tacked on to the story or shoved down the reader's throat, which I liked. The historical basis of the book seemed accurate, and the feminist in me liked this exploration of the early woman's movement. Overall this book read a lot like a romance novel without the sex, which isn't necessarily bad, although it did make the book a little dry, and while some of the characters' faith-based decisions were good ones, others were extremely frustrating.

I will admit that I was not the audience for this book at all, but I thought it was pretty good. I was expecting something very sentimental or preachy, and instead I got a nice, if somewhat pedestrian, multi-generational love story.

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