Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell
Bethany House, June 2009
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)
Synopsis (from Christianbook.com):
In the small Puritan community of Stoneybrooke, Massachusetts, Susannah Phillips stands out both for her character and beauty. She wants only a simple life but soon finds herself pursued by the town’s wealthiest bachelor and by a roguish military captain sent to protect them. One is not what he seems and one is more than he seems.
As the depth, passion, and sacrifice of love is revealed to Susannah, she begins to question the rules and regulations of her childhood faith. In a community where grace is unknown, what price will she pay for embracing love?
In a few words: Is it even possible to give you a short review of this book? Not really. I will tell you that it’s a keeper. Descriptive adjectives that come to mind: Thought-provoking, moving, original, skillfully-written, and although not warm and fuzzy or happily-ever-after, filled with hope. Also note that this is not “Amish fiction”.
My Full Review:
I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish this book last night (this morning).
It. Was. Incredible.
What was it about the book that had me sacrificing much-needed sleep?I was literally wide-eyed through the entire second half of the book – sleep was not coming anywhere near me. And believe me, that doesn’t happen often. Susannah is pursued by a truly terrifying man (I was practically quaking in my boots for her), while another man, a captain come to help defend the colony from Indians, is trying to protect her. The situations were nerve-wracking at times, and that definitely kept me interested, but also the things that went on inside the Puritan households and minds fascinated me. The author went into just enough historical detail that I wanted to know more, but she didn’t overdo it for those who would have found it “too much history”.
Love’s Pursuit takes place in a Puritan colony of Massachusettes, and if you assume that it must be another book about the Salem Witch Trials, you would be wrong. Not one mention of the Salem Witch Trials! I was kind of glad because there have already been quite a few written on that subject – I don’t think all historical novels need to be centered around the same topic, and that seems to be a favorite (with good reason – it is vastly interesting, though sad). We do, however, see the same attitudes and prejudices that brought the horror of the Salem Witch Trials about. It makes sense. A people ruled by fear will never be at peace or be able to trust God, no matter how much they would deny that.
I’m having a hard time not being conversational in the midst of this review because the book really got me to thinking. So if this ends up being insanely long, I’ll apologize now. ;-)
Some reviewers have said that they had trouble getting into the book at first (though almost all are very glad they pushed on), but I didn’t. I knew it was “my kind of book” immediately and was immersed in the lives of the Puritan families until the very end when I put the book down with a sort of sadness that it was all over. Susannah Phillips is a character that I immediately felt akin to. In the beginning she struggled with being “the perfect one” – and her thoughts and feelings on that subject were confused. She knew inside she wasn’t perfect, though she wanted to do right. She just couldn’t always do right. Actually what surprised me was how much I liked the Puritans. I know that they have been made to look evil and cruel (which at times they were), but in the end they’re just another group of people who twisted scripture and didn’t have a right view of God. They thought they had to be perfect and earn their way to heaven through being perfect. They were hard on themselves and others when they saw that standard couldn’t be reached.
I pretty much loved everything about this book. I could go on and on about it but you really need to find this book yourself and read it!
In conclusion I want to say that although it was one of the best I’ve read this year, this book is not a light, comfortable read. It’s heart-rending at times, definitely thought-provoking, and … well, I’m still in a bit of a fog from reading it. I loved it for the characters, the heart, and the message that that there is a God of grace and love… I will definitely be waiting to pounce on each and every new release by Siri Mitchell. She is an amazing writer.
Note to the author: I want to take this moment to let the author know that if there was ever a sequel, I would be overjoyed! And possibly die of happiness, though that would defeat the purpose…
Disclaimer: Please excuse the scattered format of this review – I have severe mommy brain at this point in my life! :-)
WIN a copy of Love’s Pursuit at Tara’s View of the World! (ends july 13, 2009)