Monday, July 16, 2012
Through Rushing Water
Thomas Nelson, 2012
Christian Historical Romance
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I read this author's previous work, Spring for Susannah, and absolutely loved the romance so despite not being excited about the setting (1876 Dakota Territory), I was very eager to learn more.
Sophia Makinoff is preparing to become engaged to a rising young Congressman until he announces his engagement to her frivolous roommate and she applies to be a missionary. Her goal is to go to China and perhaps eventually return to her birthplace in Russia. Instead she is sent to Dakota Territory to serve as a missionary and teacher to the Ponca Indians. Running from the pain of the broken relationship, Sophia is soon immersed in the lives of those around her, battling for the Ponca tribe and their livelihood against an encroaching American government.
I have to say that I LOVED Sophia. She is so tough, loving, and full of grace. She could have given up at multiple points but she just kept persevering and attempting new avenues to get the support she needed. She gave her whole heart to the challenge of making a new life in the Dakota Territory. Another notable character is Will, the village's carpenter. Despite warnings from the local pastor and land agent, he learned the Ponca language and has been accepted by them, also putting forth his best efforts in seemingly hopeless conditions.
However plot-wise, the book seemed a bit soggy. I think you could divide the book roughly into thirds. The first is Sophia becoming acclimated; the second is fighting the US government's demands that the Poncas move; and the last third is in Omaha where Sophia and Will's romance really takes off. While I loved the romance, I did think the Ponca storyline was more powerful so to have it almost shelved was frustrating and to the story's detriment.
There were a couple of elements that were new to me, as a sporadic reader of Christian fiction. First Sophia was born in Russia and was raised in the Russian Orthodox Church to the shock of the local Episcopal priest; I've really only read books with Protestant heroines. The second element was the inclusion of the Ponca Indians. Since I tend to read historical fiction set in Regency and WWII, I'm not as familiar with the period. It's also a tough one to read about because of the appalling way the US government behaved; it's hard to read about the underhanded behavior when I know that the bad guys aren't really punished.
Overall: I loved the bits of romance but thought the plot as a whole wasn't as strong and powerful as it might have been.
Cover: The cover does not appeal to my personal preferences as I like bright colors but its muted tones are fitting for this more somber story.