Review: Candle in the Darkness

9457986Title: Candle in the Darkness
Author: Lynn Austin
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: November 2002
Length: 394 pages
Series?: Refiner’s Fire #1
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised in a culture that believes slavery is God-ordained and biblically acceptable. But upon awakening to the cruelty and injustice it encompasses, Caroline’s eyes are opened for the first time to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. Her journey of maturity and faith will draw her into the abolitionist movement, where she is confronted with the risks and sacrifices her beliefs entail.

***** Review *****

Caroline is like many children of the time – raised by slaves who support and run the Southern plantations and households. She has forged a bond with the people she sees day in and day out, who seem closer to her than her own parents.

Daddy was kind to me and brought me all sorts of treats…If I needed a man’s strong arms to hold me close and comfort me when I was upset, I ran to Eli.

Her mother is always cloistered away, upset and in moods. Caroline grows up hoping she doesn’t become what her mother has, and a burden to her future husband.

I once heard Ruby say that Mother had “lost” her baby, and I worried for the longest time that Mother would lose me, too.

Caroline doesn’t see the institution and nuances of slavery as Southerners do. She sees it through the eyes of a humanitarian: what is wrong and right, simply based on human feeling and emotion. She sees the injustices of slavery, and even though she is Southern, she doesn’t support it, but she can’t outright deny or criticize it, either.

After a series of events, Caroline is sent to live with relatives in the North, where she becomes involved in abolitionist movements. She spends two years of her life in the North while her father is away. She returns to the South and struggles with the life she must continue to lead. Things start changing drastically as events lead up to cession and the Civil War.

I enjoyed how Caroline’s life after returning to the South followed and focused on the events leading up to the Civil War, with accuracy and detail.

This novel is written is such a unique way. It is Caroline’s accounting of the story, that is one day given to her fiance. It is the last bit that she has to hold on to a drastically changing life, and one she cannot see the future of.

I need to explain why I’ve done what I have done, to tell my story in my own words before it’s told by those who won’t understand. They will surely call me a traitor and a murderer, and I suppose I am both of those things. I have betrayed people who trusted me. My involvement with certain events in Libby Prison has led to accusations of moral improprieties, but as God is my witness, I am innocent of those charges. Even so, people will believe what they choose to believe. And when a host of vicious rumors is added to the list of my misdeeds, I’m not sure anyone will ever understand why I’ve acted the way I have.

What Caroline survives on is Eli’s encouragement and her faith. Eli repeatedly helps Caroline see that it’s not her way, but God’s way…and God’s time. I generally do not like preachy books, but this one wasn’t so bad. I didn’t feel preached to – I clearly felt Eli was mentoring and nurturing Caroline.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War time period.

***** About the Author *****

39788For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

4 thoughts on “Review: Candle in the Darkness

  1. I actually read my first Lynn Austin novel last year (Keeper’s of the Covenant) and fell in love with her storytelling. She truly does pay attention to detail and accuracy, and is strikingly gifted at piecing such wonderful historical fiction together. Great review!

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