Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Just finished Fire by Night, the second in the Refiner's Fire trilogy by Lynn Austin. The first one, Candle in the Darkness, was so good, I didn't think this one could match it, but it does. This time the family is on the Union side, although few family members are actually enlisted as soldiers in the war. Class differences existed in the north, which is evidenced by the wealthy being able to "buy" their way out of serving in the Union army. I admire the way that Lynn Austin is able to cut through Christian hypocrisy and show the truth of our Savior's grace and love. The Civil War, on both sides, was very evil, and this series, is the best I have read/heard in divulging the human failures of the war. Slavery is and was absolutely wrong. And it is by divine providence that the north won the war and slavery was abolished. That said, the price that our nation paid was a grievous one, and many horrors were perpetrated by the blue and the gray.
Fire by Night opens by placing us smack-dab in the middle of the Civil War battle of Bull Run, so you immediately that the author's not holding anything back. For those of you who don't need quite so much realism in your fiction, be aware that this is a frank look at the trials of the army doctor and nurse and the Union infantry. The battles go on and on and the field hospital truly is a grisly place.
The characters are well-developed and I genuinely cared about Julia, Phoebe and all the others, but two things about this book really dragged me down. First, it was long... I mean, LONG: Twelve hours of audio. Second, the whole book seemed to be centered around this idea of penance and atonement. Although there is a place for that, it did seem to overshadow the simple gospel.
I had no idea that this book was part of a trilogy, but I don't think it hurt much to read this one out of order. I must give Austin credit for surprising me more than once with a plot twist. I honestly didn't expect everyone's lives to take the turns they did until right before it happened. That was satisfying, but I don't think I will go back for book one or three.
This story is presented through two well developed characters whose stories intertwine in a believable fashion. Interesting historical details.
Although I anticipated a few of the story twists and turns, I loved the characters especially Ike and Ted. It was wonderful to really watch Ike become Phoebe and Julia to become a caring woman. I am sure I will listen to this one again -- which is my highest praise.
The Refiners Fire trilogy is my favorite Lynn Austin series. Book 2 is a wonderful story built around a fascinating narrative about the Civil War. That history is enriched with dialogue about faith, hope, love and God's concern for all his children. The plot wraps around the big social changes for women and blacks brought about by the Civil War
I would and have recommended this book and it's predecessor "A Candle in the Darkness" to my friends. They are both very enjoyable and educational as well. Lynn Austin's research and attention to details about the Civil War makes them "must reads". Christina Moore, as the reader, makes these books come alive with believable and recognizable voice changes for each character. I did find it a bit of a stretch to think Phebe could pull off her masquerade as a male soldier to such an extent. However, it did not keep me from enjoying the book.
That it adds more flavor to this trilogy by coming from the point of view of the North and it's struggles to keep the country united as one.
Yes....."A Candle In The Darkness" and together they weave the story of the Civil War in a believable and engrossing fashion.
After having listened to these first two books and enjoying them, I am looking forward to listening to book three of this trilogy.
Started a bit slowly put, as the pieces started weaving together, I couldn't stop listening! The Civil War, with the terrible toll, became real. I will miss the characters.