All Things New
I always get really excited about Lynn Austin books, so when I got this book for review, I happily skipped to my Christmas list, crossed All Things New off, and thankfully landed on my bed with a thud! and began to read.
All Things New is set during the tumultuous times of the Reconstruction. It focuses on three women: Proper plantation owner’s wife Eugenia, who’s lost everything in the War; her daughter, Josephine, and their freed slave, Lizzie.
This book was not, strictly speaking, a "happy" book. It was set in a time in the aftermath of destruction and strife, and yet there is still a glimmer of hope that not only keeps the characters going, but keeps the reader turning pages, too.
Out of the three women, I probably enjoyed Josephine’s story the most, but the other two women’s stories were interesting as well. I admit that sometimes this book was hard to read, because of the bitterness so many of the characters had and the struggles they had to go through.
Basically, these three characters are struggling with their place: Eugenia and Josephine have grown up in a world where they have been protected and safe and pampered: they’ve never had to face hardship or even make decisions, because the men always decided everything. But now the men are gone and things have turned over and upside down. Jo embraces her new role; Eugenia fights it. And then there’s Lizzie, who struggles to know exactly what it means to be free, and still has a hard time facing her fears about disobeying those who have always been "above" her.
Each woman has a special man in her life, and I loved how each of these men really helped the women grow and adapt: there’s Alexander Chandler, the Yankee who’s come to try to rebuild the South; David Hunter, the doctor who’s always been a comfort to the family; and Otis, Lizzie’s faith-filled husband.
There were other characters who also intrigued me; namely, Harrison Blake, who was such a tortured person, so weighed down by his helplessness and guilt that I hated him and felt sorry for him at the same time. Really, he was probably the character I found the most interesting.
All Things New isn’t my favorite Austin book, but I enjoyed reading it and would recommend to those who enjoy reading about the Civil War, or other books by the author.
Objectionable Content: Several men come back from the war with serious injuries; there are a couple kisses; a man attempts to commit suicide; it is learned that a woman was the victim of rape
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.