Monday, February 1, 2016

A River Too Deep by Sydney Tooman Betts

I really liked this Christian historical novel. The characters were exceptionally well crafted and the story line was very entertaining and informative.

The novel takes place in 1817. Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long thought dead. Nothing is as they presumed and soon they are plunged into treachery and deceit. When Alcy tries to escape from the life threatening situation her step-uncle has created, she is surprisingly rescued. But her rescuer is not the man she thought and now her future may be more in peril than ever before.

This novel is an amazing study in a cross cultural experience. Alcy was part of a wealthy family with servants who prepared the meals, mended the clothes, etc. Suddenly, Alcy is thrust into a culture where she must learn the necessary skills of survival. The lessons she learns about herself and life are thought provoking. She has to butcher an animal, for example. She thinks about the servants back home who always did that for the family. She had never wondered if they liked their tasks or not. Similar kinds of experiences produced a growing level of maturity in Alcy that was refreshing.

The spiritual maturity that Alcy developed was wonderful. She consistently saw God's hand in all that happened. She learned that “what is truly valuable cannot be purchased and that real security comes only from God.” Reading the novel, I was pleased to see many similar spiritual lessons revealed.

Another thought provoking topic concerned civilizations. What does it mean to be civilized? Cross cultural missionaries faced a similar kind of question. How much of a society's cultural behavior must change if the people become Christians? I found this aspect of the novel very interesting reading.

And there was one more topic that caught my interest. Is love enough to make a suitable bridge between cultures? How do people from two very different cultures come to form a lasting relationship?

I highly recommend this novel. I was entertained yet I was encouraged to think about some very serious cross cultural issues. There was plenty of intrigue mixed in with periods of intense action. I recommend this novel to those who have a high standard for historical fiction and want just a little bit more from there reading experience.

Food for thought: “I would rather have a few, difficult years on earth doing His bidding, than many comfortable ones spent pursuing my own pleasure.”

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Sydney Tooman Betts (B.S. Bible/Missiology, M.Ed.) was involved in a variety of cross-cultural adventures before she married. She and her husband lived in Europe and the Middle East where he served in various mission-support capacities. Her teaching experience spans from preschool to guest lecturing at the graduate level. She has served in a variety of education ministry position in churches. She and her husband now live in the Shenandoah Valley. A River Too Deep is her first novel.

Stonebridge Publications, 272 pages. You can purchase the book here.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel through Celebrate Lit for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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