I picked up this book off my shelf and thoroughly enjoyed the re-read as it’s been a few years and I’d forgotten much of it.
Not an easy novel to classify, “The Scarlet Thread” is part contemporary, part Christian, and part historical fiction with two story lines. Much of the book is taken up with the story of Sierra Madrid, the contemporary character whose marriage is struggling. When her mother gifts her with a journal from one of her ancestors, Sierra realizes that her problems are not new ones and that there is a way back. This ambitious novel takes the reader back into the years of Westward Expansion when settlers were offered free land to settle Oregon.
I remember reading this book and feeling that the author had given too much slack to Sierra’s husband, Alex, but this time around, I was able to get more out of the story and the author’s attempts to ‘humanize’ the characters’ motives. Both times I read it, I loved it. I love historical fiction regardless, and the author did a wonderful job of making the struggles along the pioneer trail real to the reader.
“James found a carved bed and chopped it up for fuel. I could not help but wonder who slept in it. It was such a grand headboard with leaves and vines. What a shame to burn such a costly thing, but we have to eat and need a fire to cook over.”
This is not a ‘everything always turns out roses’ kind of Christian fiction; rather, it addresses the very real problems and dilemmas present in life, whether in the early 1800’s or currently for today. We are still confronted with illness, personal safety, wrong choices, selfish disregard for others, conflicts within family relationships, and the list goes on. The author never glosses over these issues, nor does she pretend to instruct the reader, but lets her characters live out the consequences of the decisions they make. Both Sierra and her husband Alex have choices to make; some are regrettable and destructive to the stability of their lives and others are understandable. The reader is caught up in both their story and the story of Mary Kathryn, Sierra’s relative who has much to endure in her own life, and this novel is a definite page turner as both characters struggle to make sense of their world.
“Aunt Martha kissed me and took off her cross necklace and put it on me. It is the pretty one with amethyst stones I admired when I first come to Galena after my father cast me out. She has worn it every day of her life since her papa give it to her on her fourteenth birthday. She said – I want you to have it in memory of me. Let it remind you I am praying for you every day. She said – God is with you, Mary Kathryn Farr, and don’t you ever forget it.
I was not comforted.”