Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Though Waters Roar

My mother is a voracious reader, and she often says, "You'll want to read this one" to me. I usually don't read them because she reads a lot of what I consider to be badly written Christian novels. Don't get me wrong—I think there are a few, or a maybe a couple, of excellent contemporary novelists who are writing Christian fiction: Francine Rivers and Jamie Langston Turner.

But somehow my mother seemed different about her promotion of Lynn Austin, so I read Though Waters Roar. This was a pretty good story of one woman's struggles in the early 20th century to deal with her alcoholic husband and his snooty, pampering mother. Austin tackles a few major issues in the novel: slavery, Prohibition, women's suffrage, and class inequality. Maybe that was part of my problem with the book—there was just too much going on. I was irritated with the two stories going on (Beatrice and her granddaughter, Harriet) and the abrupt switching between "present" (which was about 1920) to past (which was about 1900). Harriet's story was so unimportant to the novel that it stood out painfully as an ill-used literary device. Austin is actually a pretty good writer for her genre. Her writing style didn't want to make me pull my hair out and yell "no one would really SAY that!"

Yesterday I was at my parents' house, and my Dad was reading a Lynn Austin novel. He proclaimed it to be excellent and said that Though Waters Roar was not anywhere up to par with the other Austin novels he has been reading.

I might read another Austin novel and give her another chance, but I'm not rushing to the library.


EEEEMommy said...

I just wanted to let you know that I'm at the library this minute, and reading your blog for book ideas. :)
I agree with your assessment of Christian fiction. One author I have discovered recently who departs from this stereotype is Charles Martin. I've read 4 of his books so far. Wrapped in Rain was my favorite, and Chasing Fireflies is a close second. His writing is real, vulnerable, poignant, and gripping. His character development is superb. You won't be disappointed!

Thanks for your reviews, I'm hoping I can find a couple of these books here at the library.

Jay said...

Two comments. The best Lynn Austin novel in my humble opinion is Fire by Night. For me, head and shoulders above her other books. Best "Christian" novel I have ever read - and it rates amongst the best contemporary novels I have ever read - Dogwood by Chris Fabry.