Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Revolutionary War through Laura Frantz's Novels

When you think of the Revolutionary War, what comes to mind?  The Tea Tax, the Stamp Act, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Paul Revere's famous cry, "The British are coming!"  However, that is only a small part of life in the American Colonies during the war.  Laura Frantz's first three novels, each set in the Kentucky territory, paint a very different picture from the dumping of the tea and George Washington crossing the Delaware, which we learned in school.  What we rarely remember, or perhaps never learned, is that there was more than just one war being fought.  Yes, the Red Coats were the main enemy, but how many men, women, and children died on the frontier from wars with the Shawnee, Cherokee, and other native tribes?  We remember the French and Indian War for the battles with the American Indians, not the Revolutionary War - but battle them we still did. 

The Frontiersman's DaughterThe Frontiersman's Daughter  is an epic novel of a girl born and raised in Kentucky, who has a rare chance to live in tenuous peace with both the whites and Shawnee.  Others on the frontier are less lucky - homes burned out, families massacred, forts attacked - yet she lives nearly wild, courted by Shawnee, frontiersman, and gentleman alike.  The novel focuses on the simple life of those who were brave enough to make their homes on the wild frontier. 

Courting Morrow LittleIn Courting Morrow Little, Frantz looks closer at the war between the Blue Coats (Americans) and native tribes, and how the Americans broke many treaties without punishment in order to destroy as many of the Native Americans as possible.  As experienced through Morrow Little's eyes, this novel shows the unfairness to the Indians by many of the Americans in their war to take control of the country, and the unfairness to any white person who would live with them (for they surely must be either a traitor or a captive held against their will). 

The Colonel's LadyAlmost as a response to Courting Morrow Little, but on the other side of the conflict, The Colonel's Lady looks at life on a frontier military fort as they battle the British and Indians.  Many of the Native Americans had, in conjunction with the loss of their homes and territory, been incited by the British to fight the people living on the frontier.  Much like in the French and Indian War, the British made promises so that the Native Americans would fight for them, though against the colonial Americans now rather than the French.  The novel also looks at the dismal existence as a soldier, where alcohol was one of the few ways to escape from the pain of injuries, dysentery, and loss of friends in the many skirmishes of the war, and where desertion and suicide were the main alternatives. 

One thread that holds these books together, though, is God's love and forgiveness for any and all people - whether a simple frontiersman's daughter and gentleman doctor, a lady who chooses life with a half-breed over the whites, or a spinster and an officer in the Rebel army.  While the boundaries of who is right and who is wrong are brought into question in these novels, God's love and control are not; He is the bedrock that cannot be moved, and it is His desire that none should be lost. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When I am Weak, He is Strong

Being ill for three weeks can really bring a person low.  When no one is really sure what it is, and nothing is curing it, it seems even worse.  And it's even worse yet when it comes on two days after a lovely afternoon devoted entirely to spending time with God - tea and a picnic with a place for Him, painting the dragonflies He provided for entertainment, His Word for some spiritual bread; but mostly, spending time knowing He was there enjoying it with me. 

Thankfully Jesus came to heal and to save, and to be our strength in time of need.  After eight days of fairly high fever (102's), and even a foray into the 103's, plus eventually a cough, I went in to a clinic and was diagnosed with probably an upper respiratory virus, even though the temps were on the high side for a virus.  A couple days later I came down with an extremely painful throat, so on day 13 I was in again for strep test, which, to the great surprise of the nurse practitioner, came out positive.  Thus I was prescribed amoxicillin to take care of it.  It didn't.  At this point, it was a question of, "God?  Can I please be well?  It's up to You, since nothing is working!"

 Well, He didn't just fix me, but He has given me wise friends who know more of infections than I do, and when I began coughing out orange and brown sputum, my friend in med school sent me in to Urgent Care.  It was something of a fiasco, but I did see a doctor in the end, and he diagnosed me with a lower respiratory infection of Streptococcus pneumoniae.  This is not to be confused with the Strep A that causes Strep throat; this is far worse.  It can easily lead to pneumonia, and it is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, among other nasty problems.  It's not something you want infecting your body.  But the doc prescribed the super antibiotics, and God has see fit to take care of my infection through that. 

Throughout the 21-day illness, I had to rely on God for getting things done (and for making sure my husband picked up the right groceries and did what I needed him to), and I had to rely on Him for comfort in my distress of an extremely painful throat and high fevers.  Even for keeping the first round of antibiotics down, when they wanted terribly to come back out of my stomach in the middle of the night.  And He was faithful.

It makes sense to me that it was an attack, pure and simple: the devil does not like us to spend time improving our relationship with Jesus.  He'd much rather we be too busy.  I admit during the illness I was not up to reading my bible as faithfully, and my prayers were pretty centered on "help me feel better, please," but God remains faithful through it all, and He continues to bless us for our love. 

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2nd Corinthians 12:10

Focusing on Family: A Review of Mary Connealy's "Over the Edge"

Mary Connealy's third and final book of the Kincaid Brides, Over the Edge, thoroughly concludes the series with her usual comedic flair.  

Over the Edge The first two novels, Out of Control and In Too Deep tell the stories of the two older Kincaid boys, Rafe and Ethan, and highlight their views of an accident from their youth that changed their lives forever.  Now in Over the Edge we finally get Seth's take on what happened that night in the cave, when the floor collapsed and burning kerosene fell on Seth, burning him badly and causing him to go a little crazy.  His experiences in the Civil War were no help to his sanity, and he does not remember getting married near the end of the war.  However, his bride and 8-month-old son show up at the start of the novel, beginning Seth's war to reclaim his memory and sanity.

As with her other novels, the romance between the main characters was laced with humorous situations and tenderness, for all that the bride was angry enough to take shots at her errant husband. 

Family, throughout the whole series, seemed to be a major theme, but it was most prominent in Over the Edge.  Connealy surprised me in an unexpected plot twist - the existence of a fourth Kincaid boy - and all four of them must work together in the novel to accept and forgive themselves and their father, who had started another family while still married to the three boys' mother.  Each has spent years believing himself responsible for the collapse of their family, and they truly need God's strength and each others' support to work through this unexpected turn.  The youngest, Heath, also needs help learning to forgive his older brothers for being part of the other family and to learn how take comfort in them and to be a real family with them. 

It's a great, light romantic comedy and fitting conclusion to the series, but it lacks some of the depth of novels by other authors.  It's still a great read and I highly recommend it, but be sure to read the first two first!  Here is a link to a trailer for the novel:

0.5: "Closer than Brothers: Surviving Andersonville" (a related prequel)

Kincaid Brides
1. Out of Control
2. In Too Deep
3. Over the Edge 

"Runaway Bride" (follows Trouble in Texas and Kincaid Brides series; from the novella collection With This Ring?)

Cimmaron Legacy
0.5 "The Boden Birthright"
1. No Way Up
2. Long Time Gone
3. Too Far Down

"The Tangled Ties that Bind" (follows Trouble in Texas and Kincaid Brides series; from the novella collection Hearts Entwined)

This review is an honest opinion, written for Bethany House Publishers as part of their book review program, and I was in no way obligated to write a positive review.