Fans of inspirational fiction eagerly devour historical novels from Christy Award winner Lynn Austin. In All Things New, the acclaimed author weaves a tale set in the aftermath of the Civil War. Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, return to their Virginia plantation, but their once-grand home has lost its lustre. Jo’s father and brother are dead, and the war has left her remaining brother broken and embittered. Bonding with Lizzie, one of the few remaining servants, Jo struggles to rebuild her life - and her faith in God.
©2012 Lynn Austin (P)2012 Recorded Books
I've been a huge Lynn Austin fan. The authenticity, solid research, and strong foundation in faith make her novels standouts among my other listens. I really appreciated her thoughtful portrayal of the post-Civil War experiences and the struggle of the genteel southerners to accept and move-on.
Ms. Austin's characters are always extremely well developed. The characters who carry the message of faith are realistic and have struggled with the same issues as the characters attempting to make it through life without that solid faith. I love her strong female characters. They are always strong and challenged in believable ways.
I think Josephine's bravery and willingness to find a way to get a message to the government agent was a very compelling scene.
I would really like to meet Lizzie and Eli to hear firsthand of their struggles and challenges.
I did my best to read Lynn Austin's books in historical order. They provide an excellent opportunity to experience the events that shaped our lives today.
I find that Lynn Austin consistently writes books that I enjoy reading/listening to. The stories are thoughful as well as historically significant and it's interesting to hear history told from different points of view. I have yet to be disappointed by any of Lynn Austin's books and am looking forward to the next one as I have gone through her entire collection.
Yes. It takes you to where they were living, and offers so much insight into the times and the war. It's entertaining, but also enlightening.
Every Lynn Austin book I've ever read ended up on my "favorites" list.
Christian Wife and Mother
Months after listening I still sometimes think about the characters and lessons learned. Worthy of my time and money and I will "read" more of Austin because each of hers I have read have been interesting.
Very well done story with excellent research, but it brought back some painful reminders of the 1950's when some horrific things were still going on. The author made a very good effort toward explaining the thinking of the time that incited people to lash out against their fellow human being.
Lynn Austin has done a great deal to encourage readers to embrace diversity through the Lord. I would love to hear her speak sometime.
Actually, it is Jennifer, not Michael. I enjoy a variety of books but am drawn to romantic historical fiction with a Christian message.
This was a moving, though-provoking story about two families from the south that took place just after the civil war. Despite our perceived differences, we are all created equal by God. Both former slaves and plantation owners struggle to recover and move forward after a devastating war.
There were also themes of grace and mercy throughout the story. All Things New was inspirational, entertaining and uplifting. I have yet to be disappointed by a Lynn Austin book. She is an amazing author!
I am quickly becoming biased in favor of ANY Lynn Austin book. Her books are worth every penny that I spend. I always get a wonderful history lesson, feel like I'm getting a front seat perspective of the storyline, and get engrossed in the excellently developed characters. This story was sooooo good and had great narration. Highly recommeded.
Ranks in my favorite reads!
It's too long for 1 sitting - and I like that feature.
I highly recommend this book!
Great story and performance! I'm listening to it for a third time in a row!
But First, a Mea Culpa:
I didn't finish this book. This is number four, in a series of recently unfinished novels. (1.The Night Circus; 2. Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven; 3. The Dream Lover; 4. This one.)
But true, "All Things New" is not "Gone With the Wind."
Readers will applaud that Lynn Austin did not try a take on a slightly remade version of that definitive and often analyzed Civil War novel. (I don't have space here to define my vision of GWTW except to say that it remains popular today because of the very deep depiction of the heroine's character. The writing was superb and the counter-intuitive revelations of all of Margaret Mitchell's characters' personalities and relationships keeps a reader engaged.)
Instead, Austin wrote from a fairly predictable formula of the relationships of former slaves and former owners.
The perspectives were stereotyped.
Sometimes the plot and often of the dialogue seemed to go out of its way to emphasize very simple characterizations of former slaves and owners. The widow and the mistress of a plantation called White Oak, Eugenia, is an intolerable idiot who didn't even see why her daughter thought it necessary to their survival to work in a kitchen garden alongside a former slave... something pre-Civil War slave owners would never have done. As I said, only an idiot, no matter how privileged, could argue against putting food on the table when you're on the brink of starvation.
Another example: Eugenia insists that a stair bannister be oiled and polished when there is only one house servant remaining on the entire plantation and that single servant is responsible for every blasted chore on the entire plantation already. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, gardening, etc... all falls on Lizzie.
Eugenia whines about not having enough eggs for breakfast while Lizzzie explains if you eat all the eggs, no chicks will hatch and therefore, no future laying hens will emerge. Duh.
Most likely, many Southerners were intolerable idiots but I doubt they had lock on idiocy back then or even now. (I come from a fairly long line of Southern Idiots so can thereby speak with some authority on that topic, unfortunately.)
That one servant, Lizzie, is married to Otis, a saint. He is upbeat when there is a problem, especially wonderful to his children and never loses his temper. This, despite years of enslavement, there's not one bad thought from Otis. Like I said, he is depicted close to sainthood.
Now that I've gotten my major criticisms outlined, I'll mention why I find Austin's chosen mode of story telling boring.
1) Predictability. No one group is all bad or all wonderful. (In Austin's defense, she did write the character of Josephine, the daughter, as a more humane and reasonable person. But actually, for the time period, she read more like a woman of the post civil rights era, rather than a pampered girl of a wealthy aristocratic southern family in the 1860s. And if I'd given the book another 6 or 8 hours, it may have fleshed out all the characters in a more believable way... but I didn't have 6 or 8 more hours of patience.)
2) And, I have no problem with painting one group as the constant antagonist and another group as the constant protagonist. (Think "Star Wars.") But it makes for an unbelievable and boring storyline, when there are no surprises and no excavation of the human soul... with all its flaws and eccentricities.
There are good and bad people of every ilk.
After all. We aren't all hatched from dinosaur eggs with a distinct preformed and immutable personality. We seem to have some purpose (in reality,) to live, grow and learn from our experiences and I expect nothing less from characters in a book.
When everyone pops off the first page with their distinctions intact and nothing makes a dent in that profile, I see no reason why should I read anything further about them. I already know how they'll react to every situation.
Maybe it's just ME. But I have begun drawing a line at about 6 hours of listening. If you can't get me interested by then... I'm gone.
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