I enjoyed reading and following the characters in this story, which was really a mini-history of a European family adjusting to one another and life in America. Hard times and being taken advantage of is not glossed over.
The main character (Marta)’s own background gives her a strong mistrust of handling life’s problems by apathy or avoidance. Her own mother’s encouragement to ‘spread her wings’ causes her to approach life from a ‘militant’ kind of self-sufficiency, and subsequently causes relationship problems later on within her own family.
I did not give this book five stars (even though Francine Rivers’ writing is always inspiring and her characters portrayed realistically), because I had a little trouble persevering with the final 100 pages or so (this is a long book!), and felt it was maybe 60 to 80 pages too long. Marta struggles over and over again with the same memories and the same kind of philosophy, but the reader does not have to have her trials rehearsed as often in the latter pages as it is ‘fleshed out’. Nor do we need the constant reminders of how her bitter and painful memories effect Marta’s relationship with her daughter, Hildemara Rose, as this is easily discerned from reading the story.
If nothing else, this book serves as a reminder that communication in any relationship, is important, but it is more than that. It is enjoyable to read from the comfort of one’s own home (for most of us, no sleeping in a tent until a house can be afforded any more…or working for four years with no wages at the end of it!)
Although there are still prejudices and abuses of race and a person’s sex, we have made gains. Women no longer have to fight to gain acceptance in seeking higher education, or accept mistreatment without legal recourse, or accept a low-paying servant’s job for mere survival. However, it is possible that what Francine Rivers is trying to teach us in this novel might be that, with all of our gains, we are still the losers, if we cannot communicate our love and acceptance of our own children.