Book Reviews

Spotlighting My Most Read Author of 2016: Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin has long since been my personal favorite author so I was honored to have read so many of her novels in a single year. I didn’t set out to purposely read more from her this year so it was a special treat to realize that of the 80+ books I had read in 2016, Austin was the one I had picked up most.  

In 2016, I had read 5 Austin novels for a grand total of 2,183 pages!! Two of those novels were re-reads that I enjoyed all over again with a friend. One was a new release. And two wrapped up the series I had open. 

Because she is precious to me and I believe what she writes both entertains and edifies, I want to spotlight the Austin novels I had read in 2016 and help show you just how gifted she really is. 

12The war is over. The South has lost.
Josephine Weatherly struggles to pick up the pieces of her life when her family returns to their Virginia plantation. But the realities of life after the war cannot be denied: her home and land are but a shell of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken.
Her life of privilege, a long-ago dream.
Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival–and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine’s mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak…but a bitter hatred fuels her.
Can hope–and a battered faith in God–survive amid the devastation?

What I Loved: Civil War fiction is a personal favorite of mine, and I was so smitten with Austin’s take on the struggles surrounding families after the war that I just had to read it twice.

My Favorite Novel Quotes:
“Bitterness is one of the deadliest emotions we ever feel. You can’t look forward when you’re bitter, only backward-thinking about what you’ve lost, stuck in the past, despairing because it’s gone. In the end, it devours all hope.”

“If we believe God is good, then we can trust that if He brings suffering into our lives or if He doesn’t answer our prayers, it’s for our ultimate good.”

35Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O’Reilly, to be the arresting officer. Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her familyand their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness brings Harriet to discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

What I Loved: Often times, Christian authors are criticized for going too easy on their characters or for never touching the difficulties of life. Austin really balanced the hardships of life and the beauty of the gospel here. And I just adore the sweet and subtle love story taking place in the background.

My Favorite Novel Quotes:
“We grow stronger every time our faith is tested. That’s how we learn to trust Him.”

“We can’t expect other people to meet all of our needs, all of the time. Only Christ can do that perfectly. That’s why I know that if you turn to Him, you’ll find contentment.”

9After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo’s prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God’s chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.
Zechariah, Iddo’s oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather’s ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.
Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Return to Me tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

What I Loved: The Restoration Chronicles was a highlight of my reading for the year. I had already read, On This Foundation (book 3), last year so I took time to catch up on the first two books. As much as I loved the whole series, my favorite was Return to Me. I cannot recommend this one enough.

My Favorite Novel Quotes:
“Our enemies are very shrewd, Zaki. But they won’t be able to stand in God’s way for long.”

“Because if we obey God, then our lives do have meaning, even if all He asks us to do is cook lentils and raise children.”

24In Their Darkest Hour, Where Would Hope Be Found?
In one life-changing moment, the lives of the exiles in Babylon are thrown into despair when a decree from the king’s palace calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire in less than one year.
Ezra, a quiet but brilliant scholar, soon finds himself called upon to become the leader of his people. Forced to rally an army when all his training has been in the Torah, he struggles to bring hope in a time of utter despair, when dreams of the future–of family and love–seem impossible.
In Keepers of the Covenant, acclaimed novelist Lynn Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God’s unwavering love for His people.

What I Loved: As with Return to Me, I found Keepers of the Covenant to be refreshingly edifying.

My Favorite Novel Quotes:
“We show our faith in God when we keep moving forward even when our prayers aren’t being answered. It’s the highest form of praise to keep believing that God is good even when it doesn’t seem that way.”

“It’s easy to have faith when we get everything we want from God, everything we pray for. But when we don’t, we have to decide if we want His will or our own. We can’t manipulate God by a display of faith or by our actions. Only idols can be manipulated. God is sovereign, and He will do what He wills, for His purposes. And those purposes are often hidden from us. I admit I don’t like God’s will when it means that my brother has to die. God no longer seems to fit the tidy little portrait I’ve drawn of Him. But God doesn’t change, Devorah. Only our image of Him can change – and any image we create of an infinite God is an idol… The question we have to ask, the question I ask myself is, will we allow grief and disappointment to erect a barricade between us and God? Or will we allow God to be the barricade, the shelter, between us and our sorrow?”

20Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.
At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.
Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

What I Loved: One of the things that I had first caught my attention about Austin is her well-crafted multi-generational novels. Her newest release, Waves of Mercy, is a fine example of her creative mind at work. But more than creativity, there’s a story of faith here that is simply lovely.

My Favorite Novel Quotes:
“I didn’t think I could ever be happy without Hendrik – but I knew that I couldn’t endure life without God….I prayed, like everyone else, for God’s guidance. I told Him that I wanted His will for my life, not my own will.”

“Until one day I realized that my regret from the past was keeping me from living well in the present. And it was robbing me of a future.”

To Lynn Austin:
I want to thank you again, Mrs. Austin, for so many memories over the years. Thanks for taking your characters to the hard places in life, the places that each of us at different points will relate to, and yet bringing out a story of hope and truth that I’m certain makes our God in heaven proud. The more I read your work, the more I can see your heart for Christ and it makes me love you all the more. I pray that the Lord blesses your work.
Keep writing. Keep sharing. 

With much love, 

Now for us readers, let’s talk Austin, shall we?!!
Have you read any of these yet? Adding one to your TBR list?
Do you have an Austin favorite? Perhaps, one that I didn’t mention today. 

4 thoughts on “Spotlighting My Most Read Author of 2016: Lynn Austin”

  1. My favorite quote from Wonderland Creek:
    I didn’t plan on reading—you make me sound like such a horrible person. But I started the chapter during my lunch break at work, and then I had to stop right in the middle of it when my hour was up. All afternoon I’ve been dying—pardon the expression—to find out what happened. So when the eulogies went on and on and I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters, I decided to take just a tiny peek and . . . and how was I supposed to know that I would get pulled back into the story again?

    Love Lynn Austin’s stories! So alive and a kindred of Alice here! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

    Liked by 1 person

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