In some ways, Her Mother's Hope was a very hard book to read; it often reminded me of Eve's Daughters by Lynn Austen. Marta had such a terrible childhood (mainly her father's dislike and cruelty to her, as well as her sister Elise's suicide) that it profoundly affected the choices she made later in life and had the potential to destroy all the relationships dearest to her. Marta made me terribly angry several times the way she treated her daughter Hildegard. At the same time, it was easy to see why she did what she did, even if I can't say I ever really liked her. Because Marta could see many of Elise's personality traits in Hildegard, she determined that her daughter would never end up like her sister. Since Marta blamed her own mother for "coddling" Elise, she did the exact opposite with Hildegard, instead often singling her out from her other siblings to "toughen" up. Hildegard was easier to like, although I got annoyed at her a few times, too. I found the ending realistic, but hopeful, and I'm going to be sure to read the next book, Her Daughter's Dream, so I can find out how everything turns out! Her Mother's Hope was an amazing, rather epic look at family relationships and how even experiences from our earliest childhood can color our decisions made as adults.
I have been waiting FOREVER for a new full length Francine Rivers novel. We've had several novellas that were really good but they just aren't the same as a thick novel from Rivers. Well the wait was worth it. First off this is an almost 500 page tome plus it's the first book in a series so there's going to be more to come.
Many of Francine's books deals with mother-daughter relationships and this book is no exception. In fact this book is about her own family's story, involving her mother and grandmother's tale. As a daughter, and especially the daughter of an immigrant, I could really relate to the story about a mother wanting her daughter to succeed in their new country. I really liked the historical aspects of the story. I felt swept up in the saga and couldn't stop turning pages. For the most part, the story flowed very well and I liked seeing the different viewpoints from Marta and then Hildie.
I did get annoyed with Marta throughout the book. I understand her background and why she acted the way she did. I know that she wanted the best for kids especially for Hildie. I get that she wanted her to be brave and strong and not be a pushover. However, I felt that the way she went about it was all wrong. Throughout the beginning of the book, I could not stand Marta's father and I really thought that Marta would have learned from that. But throughout most of the book, she would act that exact same way towards her daughter. To me it was like it started from the beginning as soon as she was born. It seemed as if Marta loved Hildie because she was her daughter, but she didn't like her. She just really got on my nerves at the way she treated her and the favoritism she would show to the other kids. The only time we get to see the true nature of Marta's actions is in her letters to Rosie and even then they are only little snippets and not very frequent. If she had just told Hildie this from the beginning it would have made everything a lot easier, but pride stood in the way and ruined what could have been a good mother-daughter relationship.
Overall, I still enjoyed the book. Even with my qualms, it's a really engrossing read and takes the reader from Europe to Canada to the US. The reader sees what it's like to be an immigrant family and the hard work that had to be done to see how a family survives. I was especially glad to see talk about the Japanese internment mentioned because as I've said before it's usually glossed over in Christian fiction. My mother is a big Francine Rivers fan as well and she read the book right before I did. She enjoyed it too despite a few problems but we both agreed how immigrants who come to this country have high hopes for their kids. I cannot wait for the next book and luckily we don't have to wait TOO long this time. I think Francine is a key figure in Christian fiction and this book definitely could make the crossover into general market literary fiction.
Francine Rivers has an amazing ability to craft a story where you feel emotionally connected to each character and where you hope that the story will never end. Her Mother's Hope takes you through the childhood of Marta and her experiences of growing up in Switzerland and yearning for something more to do with her life, and eventually follows her to California where she has settled and raised a family. In fear for her daughter and the similarities she possesses with Marta's own sister she pushes her daughter Hildemara Rose away not realizing the rift that grows between them.
Marta's life had been filled with so much heartache and struggle that she believes that only the strong survive, and while Hildemara comes off as shy reserved girl, Marta tries to push her hoping she will not fail. In a turn of events Marta and Hildemara are forced back together when they find that they need one another and they must learn from each other and realize they may have misunderstood each other the whole time.
This was only my first experience with a Francine Rivers novel and I am amazed at the quality of the stories that she writes. I tend to avoid historical books however Rivers has created a story where her characters jump off the page and make you feel as if you have known them forever.