Bethany House Publishers
I received a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday, and when it comes to actually buy a book, I’m incredibly selective. I research, I read reviews…I want this book to draw me in and not be a waste of my money. That may be because I get so many free books for reviews that are not really my first choice, so that when I do get to make a choice, I’m very picky. (Actually, I did get a chance to review this book for free, but picked another. Sad mistake on my part…)
Anyway, back to the subject. I have read three other of Siri Mitchell’s books: A Constant Heart, Love’s Pursuit, and She Walks in Beauty. I read the first two and neither of them struck my fancy, as I found them both to be, shall we say… depressing. For me, anyway. Also, because Siri Mitchell often writes in first person from both main characters' side, I found it confusing. However, I then read She Walks in Beauty and really enjoyed it.
So when I was at the bookstore, I saw her newest book, The Messenger, and paused. And decided to buy it after taking it and then putting it back several times. I am very indecisive, but somehow, The Messenger kept somehow jumping off the shelf and getting into my hands. Long story short, it is now on my shelf.
That was possibly the longest ever introduction to a review. Enough with my rambling; here’s the book description:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?
Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.
This book pulled me in entirely. I loved that fact that it was a romance…but then it wasn’t. It’s about how Hannah and Jeremiah have to learn to work with and appreciate each other, and though they do end up caring for each other by the end of the book (sorry if that’s a spoiler for you…) it wasn’t the typical "Oh she’s pretty and he’s handsome I want to marry her/him" plot. In fact, they annoy each other so much so many times that despite the serious nature of the book, I did have a smile on my face a lot.
I had recently read a biography of Benedict Arnold, and although the man did not appear in in this novel, from the biography I learned about many of the incidents of the British occupation of Philadelphia (such as the infamous Meschianza) that were included in The Messenger. I found that to be an interesting coincidence, and felt the pleasure of knowing the historical background of the plot!
This book tackled the issue of a faith based on a political position or particular belief, and I found that it contained much to ponder. The only downside for me was the fact that I found the ending to be very abrupt- so much so you're almost confused at whether or not it really is the end. I wanted more to it! Also, if you are not familiar with Siri Mitchells's writing style (first person perspective from both characters) it can be confusing. However, The Messenger is not a book that is to be quickly forgotten, and I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction.
Objectionable content: The British officers are very immoral in the way they behave and the way they treat their prisoners. It is mentioned a woman was raped. A man lost his hand in a battle, and many men die of sickness or accidents while in prison.
Rating: gasp…is she? Will she? Yes! I actually am giving it a 10. Amazing, no?
If you’re wondering, yes. I did take a very long time deciding whether or not to give this book a 10!