Book Review: All Things New By Lynn Austin

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The Synopsis on the back of the book:

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.

Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival--and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine's mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak... but a bitter hatred fuels her.

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 416
  • Published: 10/2012
  • Good Reads Rating: 4 Stars
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes:
And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
Neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things have passed away.
And He that sat upon the throne said,
”Behiold, I make all things new”
— Revelation 21:4-5
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Overview: 

The story starts right at the end of the Civil War in Virginia. It opens up with the Fall of Richmond in April of 1865. After the battle, The Weatherly's head home to their plantation and home, White Oak. 

After the family comes home, their test of faith and will to survive is tested. After the Civil War, as many have remembered learning in History class, it was a time to rebuild the country. It was a time to start accepting blacks as free men and to work with the whites. Of course, as we all know this did not go well, and it was a tumultuous time. 

The story follows the ladies of White Oak, Josephine, Eugenia, and Mary, as they learn to rebuild their lives and become accustomed to the new times. It also follows slaves Lizzie, Otis, and their family that decided to stay after the war, and the struggle accepting that they are now free and if they should leave the plantation or stay. 

First Initial Thoughts:

The book started off relatively fast and you got a good sense of what was happening as the Union won the war. 

Eugenia really ticked me off in this novel. At times I really felt for her because she lost her husband and everything she knew was changing. However, she was quite rude and not compassionate towards the blacks/slaves. Though I have to remember that this was a different time. A time that we can't even fathom what it was like. I have to remind myself to put myself in her shoes and realize that she was ultimately concerned for her daughters and that they survive after the war. She didn't know anything else but the life she lived before the war, and you can really sense that as the story continued. 

Josephine is the daughter of Eugenia. She is a very strong and willful woman. However, she was also very angry throughout half of the book. Particularly at her mother for various reasons. You could always tell the tension between her and her mother and I felt for them at times. I think she truly loved her mother but was agitated that she couldn't get her mother to agree with her views of the new South. She also meets a man named Alexander Chandler that tests her faith and what it means to forgive God and her family. 

I loved Lizzie and her family! They were such a lovely family, and Otis was so sweet to her! They were loyal to White Oak, and I admired that even after they became free. They also go through so much in this novel and I admired their will to go on. 

Setting:

Lynn did a great job at really creating a beautiful picture of the South, what it was like in the late 19th century and how torn our country was at that time. You could really imagine yourself there as the story took place. 

Final Thoughts: 

The story was fantastic! By the end, Eugenia really grew as a character and learned to accept the new South. I admired her for changing and become more accepting. I loved reading her story and the struggle she went through, wanting the old South back but also knowing that she had to accept the new South and move on. 

Josephine and Alexander, I loved their "star-crossed" love story and how he saved her. She learned to forgive and not be angry with God. I loved their talks together because I could really tell he cared for her and Josephine started to see the truth. 

Lizzie and her family grew closer together and I enjoyed seeing their story unfold right to the end. The Weatherly's relationships with each other were very tense and angry but by the end, they grew closer together. 

Ending: 

The ending was heartwarming and positive. I left with wanting to know what would happen to The Weatherly's after the story ended. That is a sign of a good story! 

Would I recommend? 

Definitely! I really recommend it to women as well who are angry with God and want to be able to heal from their past. The story will inspire you to continue to heal with God. It's also just a sweet and heartwarming story to read! 

I hope you enjoyed this weeks review! Have you read this book? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Tomorrow is Top 5 Wednesday and it has to do with Vampires! So stay tuned! Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook to be notified of the new post! 

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