The Healer’s Daughter: My Review

When I think of the Civil War I am saddened by the great battle between the states and the huge loss of life. I am glad that the slaves were finally free. I have never thought much about the years after, the Reconstruction. What happened to the slaves that were freed from the plantations?

After extensive research, Charlotte Hinger has written a novel about a group of former slaves that migrated from Kentucky to Kansas to establish an all-black town. The novel, The Healer’s Daughter, paints a picture of tremendous hardship and perseverance. 

The main character, Bethany, is a strong willed young woman who has some skills in healing but her real passion is teaching. Her mother, Queen Bess, has learned healing arts from doctors whom she assisted on the plantation. I was fascinated by her observation and knowledge of people, her quest to gather medicinal herbs.

Medical care was chaotic in the years following the war. There was no licensing or certification process for doctors. A man might learn as an apprentice and then with limited experience put a shingle out, offering his services.

The story includes instances of normal childbirth, as well as complicated births and tragic situations. The book has intense scenes that caused me to pause and put the book down for a while. It has helped me see how the black family was crushed and torn apart during slavery. Establishing a living as free people was a great challenge.

Hinger’s book is based on the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas. From the author’s notes: It was the first all-black town established on the High Plains.

Photo of prairie by Philipp Reiner on Unsplash

This post is shared with Booknificent Thursday. Visit Tina’s site for more book reviews.

Book Review: Marilla of Green Gables

If you enjoyed the Ann of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, you will probably like a new book about Marilla by Sarah McCoy.

Sarah McCoy takes us back to Prince Edward Island when Marilla is just entering her teens. In her author notes, Ms. McCoy explains that she was motivated to resolve a mystery. In the book, Anne of Green Gables, Marilla told Anne that she used to be good friends with Gilbert Blythe’s father—people said that John was her beau. And then Anne asked, “Oh, Marilla—what happened?”

The description of Avonlea is familiar and rich in detail. I recognized the the characters—McCoy does a good job of recalling personality traits. The story starts slowly and I wondered if it would hold my interest. I already knew the Marilla never married. But the story expands with historical details.

The author paints a picture of Avonlea during the time period leading up to the United States Civil War. Canada was struggling with its relationship to the British monarchy, and was also affected by the turmoil in the United States. Slaves that escaped through the Underground Railroad made their way to Canada.

One of my favorite parts in the book was the description of the sewing circle that the women of Avonlea participated in. They came together to visit, to have tea and to sew for a cause.

McCoy has done well in bringing us another story about Green Gables in Avonlea.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

This post is also shared with Literacy Musing Monday. Visit Mary’s site for summer inspiration. Also linked with the Classical Homemaking Party and Booknificent Thursday.


Personhood, Women’s Roles and Herbal Infusions

Most evenings I spend some time reading. Here are a few of the books I am enjoying.

A friend of mine loaned me the book, Love Thy Body, by Nancy Pearcey. Ms. Pearcey addresses many of the controversial issues in our culture. 

She begins by discussing personhood. Some view human beings as simply biological organisms until they display cognitive function which then allows them to be recognized as a person. The assumption is that body and soul are separate. The biblical perspective is that when human life begins it is body and soul united.

I am reading a chapter at a time and learning about some of the events in science history. Sometimes a couple sentences will cause me to pause. After referring to the theory proposed by Darwin (all life occurs in an evolving chain) she considers the impact that Darwin had on science. No special status is assigned to being human—because there is no human species. As a result, “life becomes a set of parts, commodities that can be shifted around” to suit some geneticists’ vision of progress. The floodgates have been flung open for unfettered refashioning of human nature itself. (p. 100)

Thoughts and questions came to mind. As we learn more about the human body are we attempting to redesign what God has created? When do the advances in medicine support health, and when does scientific experimentation cross moral and ethical boundaries? In our desire for control what are we overlooking? What are the longterm consequences?

Today I read a well researched article. I was startled to learn that the use of aborted fetal tissue for research began in the early 1900’s. The article notes research that took place after forced abortions that were allowed under the Eugenic Sterilization Act. Here is a portion of the article (to read more click on the quote):

In just one such research paper, Drs. Thicke, Duncan, Wood and Rhodes graphically describe their work: “Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained from the gynaecological department of the Toronto General Hospital. They were placed in a sterile container and promptly transported to the virus laboratory of the adjacent Hospital for Sick Children. No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.” (15)

At the same time I am reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book from our local library. Elizabeth lived in the 19th century and wrote about women’s roles and their relationship to men in the social strata of the time. Her observation of human nature, description of the industrial age and society norms is fascinating. It is also a well-crafted story.

My daughter gave me Healing Herbal Infusions by Colleen Codekas. It is fun to browse through the pictures and recipes in this book. 

I love the springtime when I am adding herbs to my garden. Recipes throughout the book include a variety of herbs. The chapter titles are enticing: Infusions to Boost Your Immunity, Infusions to Relieve What Ails You, Infusions to Nourish Your Skin, Lips and Hair. I will try some of the recipes.

This post is joining the link-up at Literacy Musing Mondays.

March Madness, Texas Tech and Prayer

My daughter is amused that I have become a college basketball fan. “Mom, you never watched basketball!” 

I responded, “Michigan has a good team this year.” I followed the Wolverines in March Madness and was disappointed when Texas Tech beat them.

Photo by Markus Spiske – Unsplash

Then I had to find out how one of our arch rivals, Michigan State, fared against Texas Tech in the final four game. Texas Tech beat Michigan State. When the game ended the TV cameras followed the players to the locker room, expecting a party atmosphere. The players waited for their coach.

When Coach Beard arrived they all dropped to a knee and began praying. The commentators were stunned and the cameras immediately cut back to the sports analysts.

The TV station handled it awkwardly and seemed to have discomfort with prayer.

Sports writer VF Castro tweeted: “Really annoyed that CBS cut out of Texas Tech’s post-game prayer. That’s a huge part of that team’s identity.”

I was thinking about the state of our nation as I read the book, Saving Amelie, by Cathy Gohlke. The novel tells the story of a little deaf girl in Nazi Germany. She does not meet the standard for a pure Aryan blood line. Will she be eliminated as the eugenics movement gathers momentum?

Saving Amelie

In the author’s Note to Readers, Ms. Gohlke writes: In my quest for answers I traced the evolution of the pseudoscience of eugenics in the United States and Germany, with its determination to eradicate disease and its design to eliminate certain bloodlines while promoting others . . .

It is still hard to understand what took place in Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler. Cathy Gohlke did a great deal of research as she wrote this book. She also referred to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. Through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and writings we see the importance of God’s truth infusing all aspects of life.

Our faith in God should inform our lives. Faith should be part of daily life, science and even sports. It seems that there is a growing desire to put faith and religious freedom in a little box. Some would say that our faith in God and our belief in the Bible has no place in medicine, science, and the interactions of daily life, but I disagree.

I’m joining the link-up at Inspire Me Monday .


The Good Shepherd: A Story to Share with a Child

My husband and I are book lovers and book collectors. We have books in most rooms of our house. Over the years we have gone to library book sales, used book stores, bought books on line and at conferences.

We need to reduce and pass books along. I have been going through some of my stacks of books and came a cross a yellowed copy of a book that was first published in England in 1948. It was published by Moody Press in 1951.

The Tanglewoods’ Secret was written by Patricia St. John. I opened the book and read the first few pages and decided that I would read the whole book before I decided what to do with it.

It is a tender story about two children that love to explore nature—trees, wildflowers and birds.

The author shows us that they need a Savior and she weaves the Bible account of the good shepherd into her story. It is a clear description of a relationship with Jesus that a child can understand. It is a book to read with a grandchild. I am glad that I rediscovered it.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday

Book Review: Caring for Words

Over the years I have been introduced to many good books at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. At the 2012 Festival I listened to Marilyn McEntyre speak and then picked up a copy of her book. I am republishing a book review that I wrote.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 14

The book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, raises a concern about words and truth. Marilyn C. McEntyre fears that we are in danger of losing the depth of language as we text and tweet. Throughout the book she refers to the Bible, classic books and poetry, sketching the idea of ingesting words. Her book was a rich meal for me.

I had to read slowly, soaking in the wisdom of an English professor who has a love of language. I learned something about poetry and the value of poetic thought. Poets cherish words. McEntyre explains the good use of words, calling it reclamation. She writes: Everyone who writes with care, who treats words with respect and allows even the humblest its historical and grammatical dignity, participates in the exhilarating work of reclamation.

The chapter, Practice Poetry, gave me new insights into appreciating poetry.

The last chapter offers reflections on silence. McEntyre writes: Silence is to words what water is to the body and to the earth. Words, like food, nourish and support life in ways that reach beyond metaphor to solid fact. But it is in our silences that digestive and regenerative processes can take place.

This book encourages reading and attentiveness to words. I feel blessed that I grew up in a home where we read the Bible together and visited the library regularly. Reading books with the grandchildren gives me joy. Assisting the next generation to value good books is a gift we can give.

Family - Bouquet

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday

Faithful Poet and Hymn Writer

Commit your way to the Lord:trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:3

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

These verses are true of Fanny Crosby. Some years ago I read her autobiography and was inspired by her life.

Fanny Crosby was a poet and hymn writer in the late 1800s who pointed many people to God. Some of the hymns that I sang growing up were written by Fanny Crosby

When she was six months old the treatment prescribed for a mild infection of her eyes left her legally blind. With the guidance of her mother and grandmother she overcame this handicap. She wrote, “But why should the blind be regarded as objects of pity? Darkness may indeed throw a shadow over the outer vision, but there is no cloud, however dark, that can keep the sunlight of hope from the trustful soul.”

Fanny’s mother made arrangements for her to attend the New York Institute for the blind when she was fourteen. Her gift for poetry was recognized at the school and she was directed to study the classical writers and poets.

Following her years of study she became a teacher at the Institute. She attended lectures and had occasion to meet political leaders. Her poetry was published in newspapers and books. She wrote hymns for a number of evangelists. Later in life she was called to serve at city missions.

Fanny Crosby’s preaching was gentle and winsome as she pointed people to the Lord through song. Several hymns written by Fanny are among my favorites. Here are the lyrics to All the Way My Savior Leads Me

All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt his tender mercy, Who through life has been my guide?

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in him to dwell!

For I know, what-e’er be-fall me, Jesus doth all things well. 

This post is the final one in Write28Days. All of the posts are listed here.

Mothers, Girls and Flowers

As a nurse and mom I follow news about life and health. I am encouraged because New Jersey has a new campaign, Nurture NJ, to improve the health of mothers and their infants. One of the goals is to reduce unnecessary cesarean sections by employing midwives to attend women throughout their labor.

Another move to support life occurred in Ohio. Ohio recently passed a bill to prohibit abortion based on a diagnosis of possible down syndrome in an unborn baby. It was good to see adults with down syndrome testify before legislators.

I enjoy books that point to the value of all life. Hazel Gaynor has written a novel, A Memory of Violets, about the flower girls that worked on the streets of London.

Violets

The book is based on the true story of a philanthropist, John Groom. Mr. Groom organized an orphanage for crippled and disabled girls during the late 1800s. The ragged and destitute girls had been supporting themselves by selling flowers.

Mr. Groom instituted an artificial flower business. The girls employed by Mr. Groom were trained to make artificial flowers. These young women, many of them disabled, produced the flowers for Queen Alexandra’s Rose Day. This is the background of the novel.

We hear about human trafficking in the news. Girls and young women are trapped in a sex trade. It is an evil business. This novel, in contrast, is a story of goodness.

It was refreshing to read about the efforts to build up the skills and independence of impoverished young women. The story has interesting twists and turns. The characters, Tilly, Florrie and Rosie, are nicely drawn.

This post is part of #Write28Days. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

The Scent of Water: Book Review

Perhaps there is a right time to read a book. I started The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge some years ago, but I didn’t finish it. This time as I read the book I was thoroughly enjoying the writing. I lingered over the descriptions of setting, and the interesting choice of words, the unique phrases. I looked up some words in the dictionary.

The story follows the main character’s move to a village town in England. Mary, like the author, is single and has inherited a cottage from a cousin. She meets the endearing members of the village, each with their human quirks and flaws.  

Throughout the book there are glimpses into a diary of a woman who suffered from mental illness. Mental illness is portrayed with insight and compassion by this author.

There are children in the story also. They are portrayed in a lovely, understanding way. 

I would guess that Elizabeth Goudge understood and delighted in children. I enjoyed the special collection of “little things” that captures the imagination of the children.

The Scent of Water is a gentle story about people with flaws, the pursuit of faith, health and relationship. You have to read the book to catch the significance of the title.

A website about Elizabeth Goudge (1900 – 1984) provides a brief biography. 

This post is part of #Write28Days. To view all the posts in the series click here.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday.

Evidence Not Seen: Book Review

My daughter gave me a copy of the book, Evidence Not Seen. The book is a memoir by Darlene Deibler Rose. She was a missionary to the Dutch East Indies, and was in a prisoner of war camp on Celebes Island during WWII.

I knew very little about what took place in the Pacific islands during WWII. Japan was expanding it control, and civilians were herded to internment camps to do hard labor in support of the Japanese War effort. The description of events was a history lesson.

But much more than that it was the testimony of a young woman about God’s care for her during her internment in a labor camp, and then in a prison camp. She was accused of being a spy with the threat of execution hanging over her.

Bible verses and hymns that she had learned over the years sustained during the darkest moments. She recalled the hymn, Only Believe, written by Paul Rader (Pastor of Moody Church 1915 to 1921). These are the words she remembered in her solitary cell:

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot.

He enters all rooms, the doors being shut.

He never forsakes; he never is gone.

So count on his presence from darkness ’till dawn.

Only believe, only believe

All things are possible, only believe.

Darlene’s memoir was also a portrayal of a marriage that was built on the goal of serving the Lord. It is a beautiful story that inspires faith in God.

This post is part of the #Write28Days challenge. You can view all of the posts in this series by clicking here.

I am linking up with Booknificent Thursday and Literary Musing Monday.