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Waves of Mercy, by Lynn Austin
In 1897, Geesje de Jonge is asked to write a memoir about her experience emigrating from the Netherlands to Michigan. As Geesje recalls the events of her past---including the story of her one true love---a young visitor named Anna mourns a broken engagement. What life-altering surprises await the two women before the summer ends?
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)|
Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she's asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.
At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.
Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.
GazpachoHarrison, MIAge: 55-65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5We are invited to experience the story as we read along. Your heart won't be the same afterward.December 29, 2017GazpachoHarrison, MIAge: 55-65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5What a remarkable book this is! I don't usually gush over a book, but this one was exceptional. Lynn Austin is becoming one of my favorite authors for her excellent research and writing style. She knows how to draw in the individual reading the book and involve them in the story. Not only does she develop her characters well, but the action is terse and sometimes breathtaking. I enjoyed every minute of this novel, although when things got tough, enjoy might not be the word to describe what I was reading. But I was definitely involved and feeling with the characters in their struggles.
This is a historical fiction piece with a double plot taking place in two time lines. The main plot involves a group of families living in Leiden, the Netherlands in 1847. A group of people drew away from the established state church and became known as Separatists. Persecution was inevitable. People were accosted, homes harmed and businesses were threatened. The De Jong family were in the middle of this. So Geesje tells this story as an older woman, settled in Holland, Michigan 50 years later. Her family owned a printing business. Even though they moved to a different city where there were Separatists in the Netherlands, their business was still threatened. Eventually a group of people decided to emigrate to America where they would have freedom to worship God as they pleased. The group eventually settled the Holland, Michigan area of West Michigan.
The story is long because there were so many adverse conditions and situations for the group to overcome. In the meantime, there is another two stories happening in the latest of the historical periods called the 'present.' One is about a young woman in her early twenty's who is struggling to find herself. This story becomes intertwined with the grandmotherly woman Geesje who is telling this story as a project for her town's celebration of their semi-centennial. Derk is a secondary character who lives next to Geesje and calls her Tante (aunt). She's been like a mother to him since his own died many years before. He is encouraging her to write her story while at the same time he has befriended Anna at the hotel where he works for the summer.
West Michigan has always had as fascinating history as the rest of the state. As a teacher, I was already aware that the Dutch had settled that part of the state and knew some of the history. This book made it all come to life for me. The Great Lakes have their own fascinating history and lore, legends of great shipwrecks, and filled with the history of the native americans as well. There is no simple way to tell this story, so this book is filled with intrigue and struggles.
An integral part of the book was the personal faith of the travelers. Encapsulated in this life of faith is the personal struggle of Geesje herself since the beginning of the story. Hers was not a perfect journey. Her faith wavered, was tested, and she often questioned God and His wisdom. The more she experienced the more involved I felt with this woman. This was not a pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by type of story. She was hurt, and circumstances forced her into some horrible situations. I shed a lot of tears of empathy reading this book. My heart was troubled, hurt, frightened and saddened right along with her. To me, that's a sign of a great book. If you love historical fiction, then I highly recommend this book to you.
MauriKansasAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Waves of MercyOctober 6, 2017MauriKansasAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is one of the most faith filled novels I've read. It is a story of many tragedies and hardships for Geesje and her family as they immigrate from the Netherlands to Michigan in the 1840's in search of religious freedom. Geesje's early story is told as she reflects back on it after fifty years. She made many mistakes as she sought her own way rather than God's way. Now in her late 60's, she is secure in her faith and fills the role of Tante Geesje to her young neighbor, Derk, whose mother died in a shipwreck twenty years before. Derk works at a hotel in a neighboring town and meets Anna Nicholson, who is vacationing there with her mother from Chicago after the breakup of her engagement to William. Derk at first mistakes Anna for Geesje's granddaughter Elizabeth since the resemblance is so strong. Anna and Derk, who is studying to become a minister, become friends. Anna is troubled by dreams she doesn't understand and a strong need to be closer to God. She has known she was adopted but doesn't know any other details. Anna has a hard time knowing what is the right thing to do about William, after he wants to reconcile. He is typical of wealthy men of that time, expecting to be in charge and for Anna to submit in all things. He even forbids her to return to a small, Bible believing church where she feels a deep connection. It was hard for me to have much of a connection with Anna, though it did get a bit easier as the story continued. Derk was a wise friend who was able to help Anna. I was a little disappointed in the ending. This is a book where I'd like to have read an epilogue to find out how things were for Anna, maybe a year or two later. Except for that, I very much enjoyed the book.
Deede5 Stars Out Of 5Was a Gift of a memoryApril 17, 2017DeedeQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Brought my mother-in-law back to her childhood of Holland, MI.
a2j4eternityWisconsinAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Loved It!!!!March 8, 2017a2j4eternityWisconsinAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Lynn Austin is one of my favorite authors for her storytelling ability. This book did not disappoint! She uses real history and weaves a beautiful story. I loved the authenticity of the characters and the real struggles they faced. There were so many powerful lessons that can be pulled from this story. How many of us have made choices without consulting the Lord and then have had to live with those choices. I could feel the struggle of Geesje as she wrestled with what her flesh wanted and what she knew to be right. I also saw how the Lord redeems those bad choices and can still work in our lives, bless us and do the unexpected when we turn completely to Him. Well done Lynn!!! I anxiously await your next beautiful story!
Rebecca ManeyGastonia, North CarolinaAge: 55-65Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Interesting Dual Time Line Story!January 27, 2017Rebecca ManeyGastonia, North CarolinaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?", Anna Nicholson wonders. Adopted into one of Chicago's most elite families, she has begun to ponder who she is and what her future will look like after a broken engagement, the man that she presumed to love forbade her to attend a church where her questions seemed to be answerable, causing a deep rift and regrettably harsh words.
Vacationing in Holland, Michigan with her mother, Anna encounters a young hotel employee, a seminary student, who becomes a dear friend. Away from the immediate pressure of her future, Anna begins to dream about what must have been her past, experiencing nightmares in horrifying detail. Derk Vander Veen's kind words and sincere faith become a balm to Anna's troubled spirit, in spite of the fact that the two are headed in totally different directions, until an unlikely source spills a story of her own.
"Waves of Mercy" is not necessarily an entertaining novel with its deep tones of sadness and melancholy, but it's certainly an edifying story, in the sense that its characters learn to rejoice in the God in whom they trust, not only in the good times but also in the bad, for nothing could ever separate them from His love. It also seemed a little unfinished, but then again, maybe not.
I received this book from the publisher, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.