If you enjoy history and you want an author that stays as close to historical non-fiction as possible, even with the work being partially fictitious, I strongly recommend “A Clearing in the Wild” by Jane Kirkpatrick! In this story, Jane took a real life person, Emma Giesy and told of her journey with her husband, Christian, to go find a new territory for their Christian colony to settle in.
Emma is a strong, yet kind, girl at the beginning of the story who’s goal in life is to not only be married to the man of her dreams, Christian, who is much older than her, but also she wants to be somewhat of an individual to distinguish herself apart from the colony. Christian is a missionary for the colony, and that is his calling in life to which he devotes himself, also trying to balance it with his love for Emma. Their love is forbidden by the colony’s leader so he is constantly sending Christian on missions to get him away from Emma. Eventually love wins out and the leader cannot help but face that so he allows them to get married and as a punishment tries to send Christian on a journey west to find new territory for the colony. Emma begs to go with and is allowed as part of her punishment as well.
While on the way out west Emma reveals that she is pregnant which has Christian worried for her and the baby to be, but it helps him to realize that there is more to life than just the mission. Emma also grows and learns that while individuality is good, it is also good to work as a team sometimes as well. We see her attitude change to more supportive of the new colony as the book progresses. When they get to the new colony location, their goal is to settle the land and provide a way for the rest of the colony members who are migrating to come out. When the leader shows up it presents another problem to Emma and Christian as he does not approve the location and thinks everyone should move to a better, tamer land. While Christian is ready to give in, Emma reminds him of all they have been through to settle the land and that they have seen God’s hand in the whole time they were there.
At the end of the novel, I enjoyed one of Emma’s thoughts. Her husband decides to take up farming for pearls so the first oyster he has her open, she finds a pearl and she mentions how it does not look like other pearls, but is more earthy in color and how it forms from irritations in the oyster and is beautiful. The end statement strikes me as really tying the book together from beginning to end. She places the pearl on a pearl necklace her mother gave her and thought, “I knew (the pearl) would always stand out as unique and singular, though clearly, it belonged.”
This is overall an excellent book and I enjoyed it from start to finish. I especially enjoyed the interview with the author at the end discussing how she really tried to stay true to the real life characters of the book. She has done a lot of research on these peoples’ lives and I truly believe it has paid off as a masterpiece that readers will enjoy.
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WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program