I'm going to start a new blog topic -- Book Talk Tuesday or Thursday (depending on which day I get to it :) ). I plan to review mostly books that I am currently reading, but will probably look back at some of my past favorites too. It's kind of like the Musical Mondays idea.
A few months ago, I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions of new authors for me to read. I was looking for something easy-to-follow, hold-my-attention, historical fiction. Some of my favorites have been Francine Rivers, Beverly Lewis, and Tracie Petersen. A number of people mentioned Lynn Austin to me, so I picked up the only book of her's that my local library had on hand. And I was hooked.
Now I've found my church library has a bunch of her books, so I grabbed the highly-acclaimed Refiner's Fire Series. They are set in the Civil War -- I love the description on Austin's website: "Each book—one each told from the northern, southern, and slave points-of-view—offers a unique and shattering perspective on the conflict while exploring the deep affect the war had on the faith of a nation." It's been very interesting to see the thoughts of the characters involved about whether or not the war was "right". They also contain a fair amount of actual history (battles, cities, living conditions), but it's so much more interesting than what you might learn in a school history class!
I didn't realize when I finished the first book that they can be read as stand-alone novels. I picked up the second book just after closing the first and expected to continue the story with the same characters. I was wrong! In fact, I was so upset that the second book was about some cousin who was barely mentioned in the first, that I put it aside for a few days. Eventually I picked it up again, and through Austin's amazing story-telling and character development, I was soon hooked. Now as I begin the third novel in the series, I know better what to expect!
While Austin's books don't appear to be any larger than any other novel, they are surprisingly deep and full and have actually taken me awhile to get through. Not that I really mind -- like I said, there is so much character development (but none of it is irrelevant!) and twists and turns that you never know what is coming next. I have to admit, I'm glad I can now get her books from my church library, where I don't have to worry about paying overdue fines. ;-)
Overall, I'm very pleased with Lynn Austin's story-telling, and am looking forward to reading more by her!