Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lynn Austin's "Candle in the Darkness" - a deep, moving story of the Civil War

Candle in the Darkness (Refiner's Fire, #1)Daughter of a wealthy, slave-holding family, Caroline Fletcher is raised to believe that slavery is God-ordained. But as her views of the institution change, she finds herself torn between love for the slaves who raised her and love for her staunchly Confederate family and friends. When war arrives, which side will she choose?

I can see why this was the Christy Award winner in 2003 for best North American Historical. Not only a richly detailed novel of Richmond's role in the Civil War, it is also an inspiring tale of conviction, transformation, and faith.

Caroline sees incredible growth throughout the novel, and she is one of the most convincing Southern abolitionists I've ever read about. Essentially, this is the story of how the child of a slave-holding Southern couple ended up fighting for the freedom of slaves, detailing the events and people who influenced her to turn her from her upbringing. It wasn't an overnight experience, and it didn't mean that she hated her Confederate family, friends, neighbors, and city. She's strong, real, and believable.

Candle in the Darkness, Repackaged EditionWhile some may find this story to be heavy on spiritual matters, it is important to Caroline's journey to becoming the strong woman she is. And there are so many gems of wisdom in there, it could fill a book by themselves. I loved the parallels between the Civil War and the Israelites' exodus from Egypt.

One thing that stood out to me is difference between Caroline's actions and those of the most of the other characters in the book. She isn't fighting for a cause, not like the fire-filled abolitionists of the North or the Confederates who are fighting for states' rights. She is fighting for the people she loves.

Not only is this book a solid choice for Civil War history, it is a solid, moving story. I highly recommend it - 5 out of 5 stars!

Refiner's Fire
1. Candle in the Darkness
2. Fire by Night
3. A Light to My Path

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