Monday, March 21, 2011
Look to the East
Tyndale House, 2009
Inspirational Historical Romance
First in the Great War Series
Summary: Julitte lives in the small village Briecourt in France, which is soon invaded and taken over by Germans in 1914. In the cellar of the local church, she discovers Charles, a Belgian in hiding from the Germans. Will she have the faith in God to survive this terrible war?
When I've read other Christian historical romances, I've found it helpful to break the book down and look at each genre separately because that's how I think about them as I read.
Historical: The historical aspects were very strong, in my opinion the best part. While the story opens in a peaceful small village in northern France, war soon begins and the Germans occupy leading to privation that only gets more extreme as the book goes from 1914 to the middle of 1916. I don't know as much about WWI as I do about WWII but everything seemed on target. I could feel the hunger that gripped the population and the fear from being occupied and from not knowing what was going on with loved ones at the front.
Religion: There is a lot of God talk in this book, definitely not recommended for any non-Christians. It is believed in the village that Julitte has been gifted with miraculous powers and that her prayer is more powerful. Additionally Julitte is a faithful Christian who prays a lot especially as the war drags on and she is separated from her love. She sees so much death even among a civilian and her only recourse is to turn to God. I liked that one of the Germans is also able to express his faith and hope for an end to the war. While most of the Germans are painted as villains (obviously), there were some nuances.
Romance: This was the part that was weakest for me and I didn't particularly care for either Julitte or Charles. I appreciated that their romance took some time to grow although it was an instant attraction kind of love. They talked with each other and she encouraged his faith, which was nice to see. His determination to be a "hero" annoyed me as it seemed foolhardy and maybe not even what God wanted (not everyone's a hero).
The End: I'm not sure I entirely buy it. SPOILER: Did Ori sell out the hidden men or how were they discovered? The change to safety occurred so rapidly as Charles returns to spying and Julitte goes off to rediscover her family.
Overall: This book never clicked for me. I don't know if it was something about Julitte's character or maybe Charles's but despite the many things I liked about it, I feel only neutral towards the book as a whole.