I love Francine Rivers and I’ve loved every one of her books that I’ve read. I first read A Voice in the Wind, immediately followed by An Echo in the Darkness (if you’ve read those two, you can understand why I said “immediately”; if you haven’t, go read them and find out for yourself). The Atonement Child, The Last Sin Eater, The Scarlet Thread, her flagship novel, Redeeming Love—all wonderful, all highly recommended. In short, I’m a big (big!) fan.
It’s been a few years since her last full-length novel and I have to tell you, I’ve been missing her voice in redemptive fiction. You can imagine how excited I was to learn that not only had she written another novel but that I’d been offered the opportunity to read and review it! Yep, very excited. So much so that I devoured this long awaited, much anticipated new release in a day. Yep, a day. Devoured, I told you.
Her Mother’s Hope is the first of two historical novels inspired by Rivers’ mother and grandmother and their sometimes strained, contentious relationship. The mother-daughter bond is complex, I don’t have to tell you that, and Her Mother’s Hope explores the heartache and disappointment that can stem from such complexity:
Near the end of the twentieth century, fiery Marta Schneider leaves Switzerland and a difficult childhood behind, determined to find life on her own terms. She’s driven by her father’s assumption that she’ll never amount to anything more than a servant and her mother’s secret prodding to chase her dreams. But nothing has prepared her for the journey ahead and the sacrifices she must make as she travels through Europe, Canada, and finally to the Central Valley of California to raise her family.
Marta’s hope is to give her children a better life, but experience has taught her that only the strong survive. Her tough love is often mistaken for disdain, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, who craves her mother’s acceptance. As Hildie pursues her calling as a nurse, she falls in love and starts a family of her own amidst the turmoil of World War II. But when tragedy threatens the independence she’s worked so hard to build, both mother and daughter must face their own shortcomings and the ever-widening chasm that threatens to separate them forever.
Her Mother’s Hope is, as the description suggests, an epic story crossing multiple generations, an aspect of the story that frustrated me somewhat, especially at the beginning of the novel. Within a few pages, or a few paragraphs even, the story would jump three years then five years and so on. I felt hurried along the story when I kind of wanted to linger awhile. That being said, the latter part of the book maintained a more consistent tempo; that, or I had grown accustomed to the epic nature of Marta’s story. I will admit that I liked the second part of the book, Hildie’s story, more so than the first. I also liked how the novel captured the tumultuous times of the world wars, touching on Japanese interment camps, for example, as well as the heightened prejudice against Germans.
Marta as a protagonist was a remarkably flawed character that I at turn liked, sympathized with, pitied and more than once wanted to shake some sense into. Such is real life–remarkably flawed–and Rivers’ portrayal of choices and consequences provide the kind of realism I like in a novel, even though I am sometimes frustrated by it.
I don’t know if Her Mother’s Hope is my favorite Francine Rivers’ novel but I will say I liked it, very much. So much so I stayed up far too late and left too many tasks undone in order to read it in a days’ time. Rivers is a master at her craft and her storytelling skills do not fail her here. I will be eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series and the resolution of Marta and Hildie’s story!
We have a copy of Francine Rivers latest novel to give away to one of you (U.S. and Canadian shipping addresses). Please leave a comment if you want to win. We’ll announce the winner in our giveaway post on March 24.
Wife and mother, Bible teacher and blogger, Lisa loves Jesus, coffee, dark chocolate and, of course, books. Read more of her reflections at Lisa writes….