River of Dust by Virginia Pye….

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River of Dust@EllenWeeren or @AReasonToRead

Reading this book was a special treat for me because I had the chance to meet Virginia Pye before I read her novel – even got me a signed copy, I did. And, by the by, she is delightful.

This historical novel is set in Northwest China in 1910 and chronicles the lives of a missionary couple whose young son, Wesley, is kidnapped by nomads right before their eyes.

Some reviewers have called this a “dark” novel but I disagree. I think it’s a beautiful (albeit sad) telling of what might happen when parents who, for what they believe is the greater good, willingly expose their child to dangers he would not have experienced otherwise.

It’s a story about birth and loss and guilt and trying to start over under impossible circumstances. It’s the ultimate test of faith –  not just in God but also in the ones we love – it’s the slow unraveling of reasonable madness.

I simply loved it!

The idea of using China as a backdrop for her novel came to Virginia from her grandfather’s journals detailing his time there as, you guessed it, a missionary. She has said the similarities between this story and her grandfather’s end with the setting.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres but the books usually take so long to read. Virginia, however, wonderfully and concisely captured the essence of the time and place, making River of Dust a fairly quick read – and yet, it’s still compelling. I kept wondering what I would do in those circumstances.

I never came to an answer.

This is a story that will stay with you for a long time.

virginia pye2

 

 

 

The Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas…….

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“But through it all, they wrote.” 

That line is the opening sentence on the book trailer for YouTube and that is the beauty of the stories in The Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas.

This book captures why women have continued to write against tremendous odds for centuries. It is a celebration of the way 12 amazing women captured words with a pen, pencil, or quill and poetically spread them across pages.

The authors spotlighted are…

Lousia May Alcott
Jane Austen
Charlotte Brontë
Willa Cather
Enda Ferber
Madeleine L’Engle
L.M. Montgomery
Anaïs Nin
George Sand
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Edith Wharton
Virginia Woolf

The author is not only fabulous with her own words and insights, but she is an amazing illustrator as well. The pages spill over with wonderful stories decorated with amazing art. It is clear that a lot of research went into getting this book right – the stories are drawn from diaries, journals, memoirs, and good old-fashioned letters. They give us the gift of so many lessons – struggling but not giving up, doubting and not doubting, and exceeding our own expectations.

I will end this review by simply saying that I love this book so much that I have already purchased it as a gift for a friend. And she loves it too!