Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: All Things New

All Things New. Lynn Austin. 2012. Bethany House. 416 pages.

Historical fiction set in Virginia in the weeks and months following the end of the Civil War. All Things New is told from multiple perspectives. Lizzie and Otis are slaves who have just learned of their freedom, they are the only former-slaves to choose to stay at White Oak Plantation. Lizzie wants what is best for her family, since the Freedmen's Bureau has opened up a school she has decided it is best they stay there so her children can attend school and learn to read and write. Josephine Weatherly is the oldest daughter. She is mourning the death of her father and brother and struggling to make peace with her brother who returned from the war a very different man. She misses the luxuries of the old life, in a way, but she's a practical no-nonsense woman who'd rather survive and learn to change to fit the new times. Eugenia (Josephine's mother) is so unlike her daughter. She's lost her husband and one son, all her wealth, and she wants things to go back to the way they were before, she wants things to go back to normal right now, she's had enough change, enough loss. Why should she change in order to make sense of this crazy world? All Things New is all about conflict and tension. Will the white families allow the former slaves their freedom, their independence, their right to make decisions for themselves...or will they do whatever it takes to keep them in their "rightful" place? Will these months lead to peace or strife? Is more violence around the corner? Or can a community start to heal?

All Things New is also a romance between a Southern woman, Josephine, and a Yankee, Alexander Chandler...

I liked it. I didn't love it or hate it. I'm not as interested in the Civil War and Reconstruction period as I am in other historical periods. (I just love Lynn Austin novels set during World War II). This wasn't a novel I could feel comfortable with.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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