Book Review: Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin

legacy of mercy lynn austin book review

The synopsis on the back of the book:

Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can't seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she's learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

At the same time, unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God's purpose for her life isn't as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje's been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

  • Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

  • Published: 10/2018

  • Pages: 400 Pages

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.57

book review legacy of mercy lynn austin

Why I Chose This Book

I was invited to be on the launch team for Lynn’s new book- Legacy of Mercy. I was so ecstatic for being chosen! I love Lynn’s novels and I knew I was going to throughly enjoy this one!

First Initial Thoughts

Legacy of Mercy is a continuation from the first book in the series, Waves of Mercy.

Anna is a young woman who is engaged to a wealthy man named, William. In the previous book, Waves of Mercy Anna finds out she is adopted and her mother was a working class individual. Her mother died during a shipwreck saving her when she was just 3 years old. She never found out who her father was. She has hired a detective agency to find out who her father was and more about her mother. She was determined to find out more about her birth family.

Ever since visiting her Grandmother in Michigan she desires to live more of a simple life. When she comes back her mother starts to help plan her wedding. Anna is soon overwhelmed by all the choices and the fact that William wants to live in a mansion. Anna has also recently renewed her faith in Christ and William does not have a strong connection with Christ, so there is that rift between them. William also desires to be a senator of IL but Anna doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. She wants to help the poor and be of assistance to them. Her family and others in her circle feel that she should donate to charities rather than be directly involved. I really felt for Anna because she really has this passion to help the needy but has an obligation to keep a reputation.

I liked William. I appreciated that Lynn didn’t make him out to be this bad man. He was a gentleman and genuinely cared for Anna. But like Anna, I don’t think he loved her. He was just not the right fit for her.

Clarice is one of the ladies in the society. She is kind of a little conniving B*&!!. She reminded me of Regina from Mean Girls. If there is to ever be a movie made for this book, Rachel McAdams would play the perfect part. I won’t go too much into what she did - as you have to read the book - but let’s just say she is not a nice person.

The other part of the story we follow Gessje De Jonge back in Michigan. In the beginning she takes in a young lady named Cornelia and her grandfather. Cornelia is a 16 year old orphan that is utterly devastated. She is suffering from what we call today, major depressive disorder. We also find out that she is suicidal. Gessje is determined to help Cornelia heal and find hope again.

Setting

I have never been to Chicago or Michigan and Lynn brought it to life so well. Lynn does impeccable research. She really has a knack for distinguishing the rich from the poor in the city. I also loved learning more about Holland, Michigan during this time and I didn’t know that the Dutch settled that particular area. And I had no idea that Holland, Michigan is Lynn’s hometown!

Final Thoughts

While Legacy of Mercy is a continuation of the first book, Waves of Mercy I don’t think you need to read that one first to understand what is going on. Lynn catches you up in the first part of the book. I think authors should do this more because sometimes I forget major parts in the first book, especially if it’s been a while!

The mystery of Anna’s father was done well. I had my suspicions who it was before it was finally announced (and I was right!) but I think Lynn didn’t make it too obvious. No spoilers here but I found the situation to be realistic. Let’s just say I really felt for Anna’s mom and it was not a happy situation.

Anna grew a lot through this novel. I think she knew what she wanted right from the start. She didn’t want to be a part of the wealthy society. Though she was fully accustomed to the lifestyle, she appreciated the more simple life. I was happy to read that she stuck to her gut, and stood up for what she believed. Even though it caused scandals within the society.

Later on in the story we are re-introduced to Derk. He is a young paster in Holland. In the previous book, Anna and Derk started to have feelings for each other. I really liked these two together. They fit so well together. He knew her desires, hopes, and dreams. And they loved talking about the Bible with each other; something she didn’t have with William.

Cornelia, even though it was not a major part of the story I felt her story was the most depressing. She lost her entire family in a fire at the age of 13. I don’t blame her wondering why she was spared and then being angry at God for what happened. I think she really needed Gessje and Gessje needed her in a way too.

I really appreciated that Lynn dove into real issues in this book like depression, poverty, and heartache. It made the novel relatable.

Would I Recommend?

Yes! It’s a beautiful book that reminds us that God loves us and has a plan for us. God knows our hearts desires. We just have to be patient and know that he has everything worked out for us in the end.


Interview Questions

1. Legacy of Mercy will be released on October 2 and will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancé at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.

2.  This story is set in your home town of Holland, MI. Did you discover anything surprising while you were researching these books?

I knew very little about the early history of Holland, Michigan when I began this series—only that it was settled by Dutch immigrants. What surprised me was how much they suffered to establish a settlement here, including religious persecution, a malaria plague, and a devastating fire. Their enduring faith in spite of all their many trials was a huge inspiration to me.

3.  The city of Holland must have seen an increase in tourism since you started writing about it. You even did a bus tour, tell us about it.

The book seems to have sparked a renewed interest in local history. The Holland tourist bureau told me they’ve guided several happy tourists to the places described in my book.  And I was very pleasantly surprised by the interest in my “Waves of Mercy” bus tour! When I offered to guide interested readers to some of the settings from my book, I never imagined there would be enough interest to fill two chartered busses! There may even be another tour after “Legacy of Mercy” releases.

3.  You are known for writing multi-generational books and Legacy of Mercy is no exception. What intrigues you about writing in this style? 

I enjoy creating women’s personalities from various eras and exploring how the roles and opportunities changed for women from generation to generation. I find it very interesting to see how the choices one generation makes has an influence on each generation after them. It causes me to be more thoughtful in the way I live, knowing that my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren may be impacted by my life.

4.  Which character in Legacy of Mercy do you identify with the most and why?

I would have to say I identify the most with Geesje DeJonge. For one thing, she is about the same age as I am, and has lived long enough to be able to look back through the years and analyze them. She is in a position to see all of the ways and times when God carried her through—something we usually only see in hindsight, not when we’re going through the difficulties. I’m at the same stage in my life, and I can see God’s faithfulness to me in spite of the many times I questioned His wisdom.

5.  When you sit down to write a story, do you know how it is going to end? Describe your writing process. How do you stay disciplined and not get distracted?

I never know how a story will end when I start writing. I rarely even know what comes next when I’m writing a chapter! I begin with the historical setting, and as I’m doing my research, my characters usually begin to take shape in my mind. I flesh them out by developing resumes for them so that they become real people in my mind, with backgrounds and personalities. Then I figure out where to begin the novel and simply make up the plot as I go along. If I’m surprised then the reader will be surprised. 

My deadline keeps me disciplined. I know that if I write a certain number of pages a day, I’ll finish the book on time. I also know how very hard it is to write well when I’m behind schedule and a deadline is looming. Wanting to avoid that last minute panic keeps me disciplined on a daily basis.

As for distractions—there are so many! Over the years, I’ve had to learn when to put the book aside and enjoy a pleasant distraction (an old friend who has come to town, an afternoon with my husband), and when there’s no value in the distraction and it will only make the writing process harder.

6.  Did anything surprise you about the Legacy of Mercy story?

Yes. One of the main characters ends up in an impossible situation, which put me in an impossible situation as I tried to figure out what to do! But I just kept writing and the dilemma untangled in a very natural but surprising way. (You’ll see when you read it!)  

Also, the ending surprised me—a lot! I hope that all of my readers who asked for a sequel are pleased with it.

Author Bio

lynn austin

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women's roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve's Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We're Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

You can purchase the first book, Waves of Mercy —-> HERE

I hope you enjoyed the review & author interview! Have you ever visited Chicago or Lake Ottawa? Share your experiences!

the caffeinated bibliophile

NOTE: I am on the launch team for this book and I was sent a copy of this book to review by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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