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Book Review: China, Medieval, and the Ardennes Forest -- Anything in Common?




No!  That's not the title of a book!  Since January I have read three novels that are actually very different from each other:  one takes place in China, one takes place in England in the medieval ages, and one takes place in the Ardennes Forest during World War II.  So, what, you may ask, is the connection between the three books?  There isn't really any connection, just that each one was really quite different from most novels I've read.


The first was called City of Tranquil Light, written by Bo Caldwell.  The book is loosely based on the story of Ms. Caldwell's grandparents who were missionaries in China.  Ms. Caldwell does a great job of showing the struggles missionaries face.  Will and Katherine Klein deal with starting a new ministry, the death of a child, being captured by a drug lord, experiencing a war, and eventually having to leave the country because of Katherine's poor health.  This was an excellent book, but it felt a little hurried at the end.  Overall the book does a great job at not painting missionaries as super heroes, but as normal people who have weaknesses, failings, and struggles just like everybody else, but who go on each day in the strength God gives them.  I would highly recommend this book. 


The second book was called Afton of Margate Castle, written by Angela Elwell Hunt.  I'm not sure I liked this book that much.  There are some things that seem odd, like a nine-year old girl with romantic feelings.  I know people grew up faster back then, but nine seems a bit young to know who you want to marry or to be able to reason out your feelings.  There are places where the book is difficult to read as it goes into quite a lot of detail about domestic violence.   This book is well-written and I like books that don't just easily work out for the characters.  It does seem a bit long in places.  I also learned some things about the Crusades that I didn't know.  I enjoyed the book, but I don't think enough to bother buying the rest in the series.  


The final book was called Dear Enemy by Jack Cavanaugh.  This book takes place in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium during the closing days of World War II.  An American nurse is captured by a Nazi soldier.  This is an amazing story of prejudice, friendship, and forgiveness.  The book had some pretty intense moments, the characters were well portrayed, especially Karl, and the book was realistic for its setting.  Not only was it well-written, but it showed how your enemy isn't always who you think they are.  I did wonder, though, how with all the traipsing around in the snow, there was only one mention of being worried about somebody noticing their tracks.  And I DID NOT like the ending!  Why?  Why that ending?

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