Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.
Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town’s settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.
(excerpt from back of book)
Waves of Mercy is two books for the price of one. Balancing between the story of Anna, Geesje, and Geesje youth, Lynn Austin artfully weaves a world where characters are unafraid to address real fears and doubts while experiencing believable highs and lows within life. I will admit it took me a few chapters to adjust to the shifts between Anna, Geesje, and Geesje's teenage years. As a reader who gets very immersed in her books (hence the many late nights trying to read just a few more minutes) the shifts in time periods and characters initially jarred me out of the story. However, as the book progressed and I became more involved (specifically with Geesje's story) I was eventually able to make the first person shifts without loosing that encompassing effect.
As with any good story, I quickly found myself latching onto a character - in this case Geesje. While I struggled to find a connection with Anna until the last pages of the book Geesje leapt off the pages with a depth that's hard to find. I loved the dimension Lynn was able to work into her character and the honesty with which she addressed Geesje's doubts and struggles as her faith collided with life events.
While I quickly guessed Anna's story line, Geesje's story line kept me guessing throughout, not so much in plot points but in her reactions and responses to those events. Austin was skillful in her ability to lead readers through events that, while greatly removed through time, still felt real, relatable, and successfully invites readers to enter into the story. Love is such a powerful connector but I loved how Austin does not rely on the traditional love story to carry Geesje along. I honestly cried along with Geesje as she made her decisions time and time again and loved the portrayal of relationship that involved such commitment, decision, and sacrifice.
This was a perfect way to jump in Lynn Austin's writing and would make a perfect Christmas gift for any lover of historical fiction or true love stories on your list.
4 out of 5 stars
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."