All Things New

Title:  All Things New
Author:  Lynn Austin
Pages:  413
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Bethany House
Josephine Weatherly has lost a lot to the Yankees.  Her father and brother were killed during the Civil War.  The Yankees invaded her home, forcing her and her mother and sister to flee to nearby relatives.  She lost her way of life.  Now the war is over.  Her mother, sister and her return home to find all their slaves gone with the exception of two and hardly anything remained in her home.  Her other brother survived the war physically, but is in deep depression when he returns home and unable to run the plantation.  Her mother longs for life to return to the way it was before the war and will do whatever she thinks she needs to do to accomplish this goal.  Josephine is tired of hearing the complaints about how life used to be and longs for everyone to stop fighting and accept the change and move on with their lives.  She has realized that the South’s views on slavery are wrong.  She comes to rely on the two remaining slaves, now servants after the war, and enjoys their company.  Her mother is scandalized.
As part of the restoration process for the South, a representative from the government, Alexander Chandler, has been sent to help the former slaves as well as southerners adjust to a new way of life.  He is a God-fearing man and regrets his part in the war, believing now that God wants to use him to help his former enemies.  He visits plantations to offer ways to get crops planted, animals procured and whatever else he can do to help people get back on their feet.  He faces fierce opposition, but he meets Jo and finds a friend.  Their friendship blossoms into more, but Jo knows her family will not approve and will view her as a traitor for befriending a Yankee.  She faces problem after problem in her home life, but is determined to persevere.  She seeks Alexander’s guidance in spiritual matters, but tries to keep their friendship a secret.  However, her secret gets out and lives are at risk.  What happens then?
This is a wonderful story of restoration on many levels.  There is the restoration of the South to the union after the end of the Civil War, the restoration of family separated by the war, and most importantly the restoration of faith and relationship with God.  There is also presented the truth that one cannot live in the past or return life to the way it was before a conflict or the only result will be bitterness.  We should always remember the past, but we cannot live in it.  Change is an inevitable part of life on earth.  There are some great examples of faith lived out in dire circumstances in this story.  There is much more to this story, and I hope this author writes more stories in this vein.  Kudos!!
My rating is 5 stars.

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