Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

229In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France–including those of her own family’s summer home–in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin’s practiced pen with this powerful new series.

What I Loved: When I think WWII fiction, I immediately think Sarah Sundin. She’s become such a staple in the genre and for a good reason. I’ve come to expect from Sundin a well-rounded story, loveable characters, clean romance, solid Christian message, along with rich and vivid historical details. The Sea Before Us is one such novel.
The history lover in me enjoyed an up-close look at part of the planning that went into D-Day. I found the map-building process to be enlightening. I also enjoyed another look at the life of an Englishmen during the later years of the war.
Much of the naval details fly over my head, but I can appreciate Sundin’s research and attention to detail. It’s clear that she put a great deal of work into this novel.
One of the things I always praise in a Sundin novel is her characters. She has a way with creating humble Christian characters. There were some solid threads on forgiving yourself, selflessly serving others, being who God created you to be, and trusting Christ with things you can’t control.
From page one, she starts off with a gripping backstory of three brothers that will be the foundation for the entire series. I can’t wait for the rest of the series to discover what happens with the other two brothers!

Rating and Recommendations: I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy WWII fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, or Christian War fiction. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke

197For American Claire Stewart, joining the French Resistance sounded as romantic as the storylines she hopes will one day grace the novels she wants to write. But when she finds herself stranded on English shores, with five French Jewish children she smuggled across the channel before Nazis stormed Paris, reality feels more akin to fear.

With nowhere to go, Claire throws herself on the mercy of an estranged aunt, begging Lady Miranda Langford to take the children into her magnificent estate. Heavily weighted with grief of her own, Miranda reluctantly agrees . . . if Claire will stay to help. Though desperate to return to France and the man she loves, Claire has few options. But her tumultuous upbringing—spent in the refuge of novels with fictional friends—has ill-prepared her for the daily dramas of raising children, or for the way David Campbell, a fellow American boarder, challenges her notions of love. Nor could she foresee how the tentacles of war will invade their quiet haven, threatening all who have come to call Bluebell Wood home and risking the only family she’s ever known.

Set in England’s lush and storied Lake District in the early days of World War II, and featuring cameos from beloved literary icons Beatrix Potter and C. S. Lewis, Until We Find Home is an unforgettable portrait of life on the British home front, challenging us to remember that bravery and family come in many forms.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the setting and historic angle Gohlke had for this novel. It was more than the beautiful town and descriptions. There was also the sprinkling of classic children literature. It brought a unique spin to the novel.
The Jewish refugees in England was another unique spin. I’ve read a lot of WWII fiction over the years, but this wasn’t a subject I’ve read about before. Gohlke really brings to life some of the hardships the children and their caretakers felt.
Sadly, I had some trouble connecting with the characters at times. The plot is spread over a long period of time and it caused me to lose touch with the characters since I sometimes felt like they were progressing without me.
Gohlke weaves all of this together with a sturdy message of faith and salvation. There is one point I feel obligated to make. She brought a lot of truth to the table, and I’m very grateful for that. But the actual moment of conversion was one that left me feeling uncomfortable. The character had enough knowledge beforehand to be saved, and she certainly showed fruit of conversion afterward. But the moment of surrender took place within a dream, and that’s the part that made me uncomfortable. That moment needs to be a conscious thought.
Overall, this is an enjoyable read that will likely send you to a new part of England with a new knowledge of the WWII home front.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Until We Find Home 4 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy WWII fiction or Christian Historical Fiction.

~ I received a copy from Tyndale House. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.