Apr 25, 2008

A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick - My Review

Originally Posted at Bibliophile's Retreat by Melissa Meeks

In this first of three books of her Change and Cherish Series, Jane Kirkpatrick combines history from the perspective of those who lived it with vivid characterization of both the historical figures and the fictional ones. This first book is set in the midst of the 19th century westward expansion of the US. Emma Wagner, a strong willed young woman from a German religious colony in Missouri, dreams of becoming a wife and mother like many others her age. She has fallen for an older man who is also one of those assigned by the leader of this patriarchal colony as a missionary of sorts to bring new members into the colony from the surrounding areas.

Their leader Wilhelm Keil has decided that Christian Giesy is most valuable to the group in this role. When Christian realizes that he and Emma have mutual feelings for one another they are both taken aback by Keil’s reticence to sanction their marriage. The marriage does happen but Keil does his utmost to keep these two physically separated as he feels Emma still needs to “grow-up” and Christian doesn’t realize the troubles she is capable of bringing with her insistence on not being just one of the crowd and having things “her way”. This book follows Emma and Christian as he leads a group of “scouts” to the recently opened Oregon Territory at Keil’s behest. The decision has been made to establish a new colony on the free land offered in the west. Will Keil’s attempts to separate Emma and Christian succeed? How will the trip west and attempts to build a new life come out for this group of immigrants facing the encroachment of society and government on their lifestyle and beliefs in the east? Does hardship and loss strengthen their resolve to be the society they feel God has called them to be or will it harden their hearts against one another?

Read this introduction to the lives of some of the spirited and stalwart souls who helped establish many of the early industries and settlements in this beautiful northwestern corner of our country. Their hardy spirits and will to succeed have inspired me to continue firm in both my dreams and my faith as I suspect they will for other readers too.

I am so glad I have the rest of this series to read as I am not ready to say goodbye to Christian and Emma or their friends, family and church that were introduced in this book just yet. I'll be posting reviews of the other two books soon. In the meantime go to yesterday's post for your chance to win a copy of Book 3: A Mending at the Edge.


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