beautifully written historical novel. Great setting, gripping characters.
July 5, 2015
Unlike many of my recent reads, this book only took a few pages to pull me in to another time and place. The characters jump right off the page, and the reader feels their emotions follow the path of those characters. Abby's closeness to her sister and her personality were something with which I could identify. The needing her sibling, her introvert personality, fear of people are all things I have experienced. The historical setting is well done and the reader is there. Truly a heart touching story that lingers after the book is closed. I've had it on my nightstand for about a week...already read...just not quite ready to write my thoughts and add it to my forever shelves. It is a keeper that I highly recommend!
Since I enjoy historical fiction and know the author personally, I looked forward to reading this novel. It didn't disappoint. The authentic details bring the period to life. Not only do we get a tale about the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906, we find medical drama about early treatment for cancer. I was expecting the former so became impatient waiting since it forms the second half of the book, but the whole story ties together well and forms a deeper picture of the lives affected by these tragedies. I also enjoyed Karen's way with words and some fine phrasing--this adds to the pleasure of reading for me. That being said, and maybe it's just me, but I didn't connect as strongly with the characters as I'd hoped to. In some stories I feel so much a part of the action, but in this one I felt like an observer. Nevertheless, I gladly recommend this well-plotted novel. (I was not asked to review the book by the author, but chose to do so.)
Abby Fisher is horribly distraught. Her sister, her beautiful, charming sister, is deathly ill with leukemia. Always in her sisters shadow, Abby still will move heaven and earth to save Cecelia. Their cousin, a doctor, brings a young colleague with him when he comes to see Cecelia Dr. Robert King has an experimental, but risky treatment that may save her life.
Even though Cecelia may not live through the trip, they transport her by motor car to San Francisco to the hospital where Dr. King had his equipment. This new treatment, X-ray therapy, may be the answer to all their prayers.
Enter the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. How the family survives and grows stronger through the chaos is an enchanting story. And Abbys feelings for young Dr. King are the stuff of an enchanting romance. But first, Abby must work through her grief and anger that causes her to question her faith and even the very existence of God.
Karen Barnett is quoted as saying, There was a time in my life where I pushed God away, but it was because of guilt rather than grief. I knew God would never approve of the choices I was making at the time, so I played Jonah and hid from Him, thinking I could return once I fixed all my problems, The result? I continued falling further into sin because I was incapable of changing myself. It took a time before I realized I needed Gods strength to overcome my weakness. Barnett has taken her own experiences to build a story that leave us with the understanding that no matter who we are or what we've done, God is still as close to us as our next breath and will never leave us nor forsake us.
Out of the Ruins is the first in Barnetts Golden Gate Chronicles series bringing to life the world of the early 20th century a time when technology was changing lives faster than people could keep up. Modern advances such as automobiles, the telephone, electricity, x-rays all changed peoples lives in unimaginable ways. Youll love Abbys story and will want to read the rest of the series.
Karen Barnetts novel, Out of the Ruins, grips the reader from page one. Her exciting story meshes the horror of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and its subsequent fire with a tender love story. Her characters grip readers hearts as they grapple with despair, disillusionment, and regret in the face of disaster and failure. Barnett weaves the momentous historical event together with fascinating bits of medical details from the first decade of the Twentieth century to create a setting that sets the heart pounding and reveals truth about God. I rejoice in the hope I gleaned from this historical novel. God is with us during the bad times as well as the good. Although the characters are fictional, the truths they reveal are real and applicable to the present.
Every so often I read a book in which I leave its pages with a desire to learn more of that subject and time in history. With Out of the Ruins, Karen Barnett, has made me go on a hunt to find more books, photographs, and film footage of this catastrophic period in the history of San Francisco, California. What a fascinating novel!
In Out of the Ruins, Abby Fischers family has to relocate to San Francisco because of her sisters need for a hospital, good doctors, and a cure for her cancer. Dr. Robert King has been studying the new X-ray treatment and wants to experiment on Abbys sister. If this works, doctors wish to try this on other kinds of cancer as well.
Abby is a nice enough heroine. I liked that she wasnt supposed to be beautiful and had her share of awkward moments. These moments created some light-hearted scenes in an otherwise serious, somber book. I admired the authors portrayal of the relationship between Abby and her siblings. Even though Abby is quiet (most of the time) and not a social butterfly like her sister, they are best friends. Each sister has something to offer. Abby doesnt make friends easily. Where she does love, she loves fiercely and feels deeply. She adores her little brother and I did too. Karen Barnett did a wonderful job writing a four year old. He didnt talk way above his age level, try to match-make, and take up unnecessary page space. This boy was just right.
The hero, Robert, is good. Um....Im not certain what else to say about him. The novel concentrated more on his occupation and dedication than on his personality. We dont read much about his likes and dislikes, background or habits. He was there to be the hero and doctor. It was fascinating to read about the X-ray treatment he was using. I love learning little things like that about history. Things havent changed that much. They were trying to cure cancer back then and are still doing so now!
A romantic relationship is always an important part of fiction. Abby and Robert have a romance, but its not a major part of this work. Usually, I want more romance in a novel. In this case I was so blown away by the history plot that a lot more romance would have been contrived and out of place. I do wish there would have been a couple more chapters that would have shown a the couple in love and relaxed after all the problems have been settled. We need more peace afer all the drama.
Out of the Ruins has us walking with Abby and her family through some very dark, tough waters of sickness, grief, loneliness, and finally, the earthquake and Great Fire of San Francisco. Karen Barnett writes with sympathy and understanding, while not shying away from the harsh realities. Through all of these problems, Abby has to learn to trust God and surrender her will to Him. The author brings out some wonderful truths about Gods love and control in difficult circumstances.
Karen Barnetts story had me on the edge of my seat. After walking, grieving, and sympathizing with these characters we are confronted with unfathomable catastrophes! I love the way the author wrote the second-half of the book in real-time. One could feel the panic and taste the fear of these people during the earthquake and fire. Hour by hour we are accompanying Abby and/or Robert in their aid of others and their search for escape.
After closing this book I want to find more information about the Great Fire of San Francisco and look forward to reading book two in this series.