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Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22: The Messenger Recommended by Vickie Price Taylor

I'm excited to welcome Vickie Price Taylor as my first Guest Blogger.  Vickie & I met at a writer's conference and I'm so pleased she agreed to guest blog. 

Please stop over at Vickie's site: Book Marks  

Siri Mitchell’s summer release The Messenger transports readers to British occupied Philadelphia in 1778. In the midst of political turmoil and religious persecution, devout Quaker Hannah Sunderland is torn between faith and conviction as she searches for a way to save lives without forfeiting her own soul. Inspired by memories of a childhood book on brave women patriots, Ms. Mitchell offers us an indomitable heroine of her own.

We are introduced to Hannah as she is walking home from her church’s weekly Meeting. The tumult inside her is mirrored in the chaos around her. Distressed that her congregation received no word from God concerning the current upheaval and frustrated that they are viewed with suspicion by both Loyalists and Rebels, Hannah simply longs for peace. But none is to be found. When she arrives at her home, she finds British soldiers tearing it apart for firewood. Outraged, she rushes in to stop them only to be ridiculed and ignored. Desperate for help, she searches the street, one question uppermost in her mind: “Was there no one who could stop this injustice?” This question serves as the catalyst for the remaining action of the story.

Knowing that her twin brother had been disowned by the Quaker community and imprisoned by the British for siding with the Rebels, Hannah realizes she can no longer afford the luxury of neutrality. Determined to see to her brother’s welfare, Hannah looks for a means to get inside the prison. Tavern owner Jeremiah Jones agrees to secure her a pass, but he wants something in return.  A Colonial spy with a plan to help the prisoners escape, Jones needs a messenger to deliver the pertinent information to someone on the inside. Hannah agrees to help as long as she doesn’t have to lie in the process. Incredulous and skeptical, he has little choice but to accept Hannah’s terms, and together they set out to accomplish the impossible.

Hannah and Jeremiah make a strong team, providing balance and conflict in equal measure. Hannah’s perseverance and integrity serve as constant reminders to Jeremiah that hope and truth still survive in a world gone mad. Jeremiah’s bold intentions and aggressive questions challenge Hannah to reexamine the foundation of her faith and find the courage to stand up for what is right. Their plan is dangerous, the cost is steep, and the outcome is far from guaranteed, but their journey together serves as a refining fire for both characters, creating a tension that coils perfectly around the external conflict of war and the internal conflict of loyalty.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Siri Mitchell paints a vivid picture of the realities of British occupation during the Revolutionary War while highlighting the strain the war placed on individuals and their personal beliefs. Though Hannah struggles with her decision to defy her church’s edict not to get involved, she realizes in the process how important it is to speak the message God has given her, regardless of how it may be received.

Mitchell’s characters are complex and authentic, and the changes they undergo make them both sympathetic and engaging. I have read nearly all of Mitchell’s novels and have never been disappointed. Her mastery of the writing craft, her grasp of history, and her skill with character development are reminiscent of the works of classic authors like Austen, Bronte, and Hawthorne. This accomplishment alone should place her novels on any fiction lover’s must read list.

This is part of the 31 Days project over at The Nester.  

Here are two other 31 Dayers to visit today:

  • Uplifting Words Wonderful quote for today. Her theme is 31 Quotes in 31 Days.
  • Delighting In Today  This particular post I've linked to is Cake Cheating and it's GREAT! Their theme is 31 Simple Solutions.

1 comment:

  1. Vickie, thank you for your recommendation. I like books that challenge the characters within them! Sounds like this is right up that alley.