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Wayne S. Walker
5 Stars Out Of 5
triumphant conclusion to a courageous life
February 7, 2012
Wayne S. Walker
Margaret Wilson was a real Scottish girl who lived from 1667 to 1685, and this book of historical fiction is based upon her life and is one of the "Chosen Daughters" series which includes Wings Like a Dove by Christine Farenhorst and Dr. Oma by Ethel Herr. It is the late seventeenth century in Scotland. King Charles II has turned his back on the Scottish Presbyterians and demands that everyone accept him as the head of the Church of Scotland. Those who refuse to do so are called the Covenanters. These include the Wilson family who live at Glenvernoch in Galloway. Margaret's parents are Gilbert, a farmer, and Janet. Her older brothers are John and Robert. Her younger brother is Thomas, ten and her younger sister is Agnes, seven. Charles has sent his dragoons under John Gresham, Lord Claverhouse, along with James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, to enforce his demands. There is a division among the Covenanters. Some encourage militant action against the King, while others, like Mr. Wilson, abhor violence and seek a peaceful solution. Though his sympathies definitely lie with the Covenanters, he and his family still attend the local kirk with the King's minister to protect his family and his property, but his older sons want to fight with the Covenanter army. Margaret is very conflicted about the whole situation.
As the book opens, Finlay Walker, a young neighbor of the Wilsons, has been savagely killed by an English dragoon who mistakenly thought that the boy was on his way to one of the forbidden Coventicle meetings. Finlay's brother Fergus and Margaret are sweet on each other. Mr. Wilson sends John and Robert to Loudon Hill with letter offering to sell some of his cattle to his brother Samuel. While there, they attend a Conventicle and witness the Covenanter victory at the Battle of Drumclog. However, Samuel is fearful of reprisals, so he and his sons Andrew and Gavin, flee to Ireland. Gilbert orders his sons not to engage in the warfare, but they sneak off with Fergus to join the Covenanter army and suffer a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. Fergus returns alone to tell the Wilsons that following the battle John and Robert escaped and decided to flee to Ireland also. What will happen when Margaret determines that she can no longer in good conscience attend the local kirk with her family? How will she respond to Fergus's proposal of marriage? And what will happen when she and Agnes are caught and put in jail along with their friend the widow M'Lauchlan?
There are many things for which we Americans can be thankful regarding our nation's heritage as colonies of EnglandÃ¢â¬âthe Magna Carta, the rights of yeomen, and English common law. However, there were some bad blips and bumps along the way, one of which was the royal absolutism of King Charles II that affected religious freedom. Author Hope Irvin Marston wrote, "The major incidents of the story are true, and all the characters were real people except for the Walkers and Margaret's Uncle Samuel and his sons. I have fictionalized a few portions of my story to enhance the plot while reflecting life in the seventeenth century." Against the Tide well portrays the dilemma of the Scottish CovenantersÃ¢â¬âwhen to submit to the King and when "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Firm believers in Christ who refused to compromise their convictions have often been persecutedÃ¢â¬âby the Romans, by the medieval Catholic Church, by the Nazis, etc. After all, Jesus Himself was put to death. Fortunately, when the "killing times" were over for the Covenanters eventually ended, people came to understand what an injustice had been done, but any system which condemns a harmless elderly lady and a harmless teenage girl to death just for refusing to acknowledge the King as Head of the Church was wrong and needed to be changed. It was just this kind of oppression that led to our Founding Fathers' notion of religious freedom. And while we may not necessarily agree with all the Scots Presbyterians' theology, it was out of their insistence on freedom of conscience that men like Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Barton Warren Stone in this country came preaching religious restoration. Some might think that the ending of this book is tragic and sorrowful, but many of us would conclude that in actuality it has a triumphant conclusion. Everyone should be able to appreciate Margaret Wilson's courage to stand up for what she believed.
Set in Scotland during the 1600s, author Hope Irvin Marston, tells the story of a courageous young woman who refused to deny her faith.The story takes place during the time of religious persecution in Scotland. The government forbade any churches that werent Catholic. Those who didnt follow the Catholic faith were ostracized & many were killed for their rejection of the official church. The Covenanters were such a group. They were Christians.Margaret Wilson was only a teen when the religious persecution started in Scotland, but she was so grounded and steadfast in her faith, she refused to deny God, even when faced with death. She & her siblings, Agnes and John, were forced to hide out with other Covenanters in order to avoid persecution. Margaret & her sister were eventually captured; Agnes was later released but Margaret was sentenced to death by drowning.Although Margarets parents both believed in God, neither were strong enough to stand up for their faith when questioned. They succumbed to the authority of the governments edicts.What I Like: This story brings this period of history alive through its portrayal of Margaret Wilson & those around her.What I Dislike: Im probably being nit-picky, but when Margaret & her siblings go into hiding, food is left for them in various places so they wont starve. There is always mention of a basket of food being found & brought to their hiding spot. However, there is no mention of the basket ever being returned to be refilled or being used for any other purpose. Their time of hiding was rather lengthy during which many baskets of food were found and consumed. As I read the story, I just couldnt help wondering: What happened to all those baskets?Overall Rating: Excellent.
Margaret Wilson is heartbroken over the death of her friend, Finlay, who was killed by dragoons. Finlay wasnt even going to a Covenanters meeting, but lately the dragoons have been striking first and asking questions later. King Charles II has recently taken the throne and claimed to be the head of the Church of Scotland. He demands that the people attend his churches only. Margaret wants to take a stand for her faith, but she is afraid. Her parents are determined to attend the kings services and not make trouble. She wants to obey her parents, but she feels that God is calling her to a different path. Believers should be able to worship God in their own way. Is that worth risking her life? Her determination puts her life and her siblings life in danger. A woman tells Margaret that each person is called to serve God in their own way. For some that is a life of service. For others it is a life of sacrifice. Although Margaret wants to serve God without having to give up her life, she is determined to let God choose her path.I knew little of Church history from this time period and found the struggle fascinating. Although Margarets story is incredible and heartbreaking, I was not drawn to her character as strongly as I would like to have been. Sometimes historical fiction reads like a list of researched events and this book got that way for me at times. If the author could have gotten deeper into Margarets character from a writing aspect, this book would have been amazing. I still enjoyed the history and peeking into the life of this woman who lived so long ago.