The Weatherlys were among the richest families in Virginia before the Civil War took its toll. Now that her father and brother are dead, Josephine and her mother struggle to survive on their ravaged plantation---and rely on their faithful servant, Lizzie, for help. Can the women rebuild White Oak---and regain their lost faith and happiness? Hardcover, from Bethany.
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(24 Reviews) 24
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24 out of 24100%customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Overall this was a good read. I had some trouble getting into the story and frankly it took a good third of the book before I felt like we were finally getting somewhere. Most of the issue lies in the fact that the story is told in 3 different points of view: Josephine, her mother and their slave Lizzy. It was really hard to bounce back and forth from the different perspectives and internal thoughts, as well as all of the different events happening in each of their separate lives. I had some trouble keeping it all straight, but I have to give the author credit: she was able to give 3 very unique characters their own individual voice. So if you can make your way through the confusion of who is actually talking and who all of these characters are, the story is certainty worth the effort.
Lynn Austin is at the top of my favorite authors! I couldn’t wait to read this book! The Civil War is over and the lives of the wealthy northerners and their slaves are changed forever. Those from the North don’t want to accept it and the slaves don’t know how to accept it. The Weatherly family returns to what is left of their once grand home in Virginia. Eugenia, the matriarch of the family and widowed by the war, plans to continue life as before. She purposes, through sheer strength and determination, to rebuild the life they once had. She has lost one son in the war and looks to her surviving son to return and take his father’s place. Daniel comes home angry and shattered by his experiences in the war. He too cannot accept the defeat and seeks revenge on anyone associated with that loss. He could care less about leading the family. Her 16 year old daughter, Olivia, is spoiled and selfish and is more than happy to comply with her mother’s plans. Twenty-two year old Josephine realizes that their focus must be on surviving the reality of their life now, not reconstructing the past. Although practical in her outlook, she is angry with God for not rewarding her “goodness” and answering her prayers during the war. She has turned away from Him. The only slaves that remain on their plantation are Lizze and Otis and their 3 children. They have no clue how to handle their new found freedom and realize they have no place to go. For the first time, Josephine begins to see them as flesh and blood people with feelings and attempts to treat them as equals. This only enrages her mother more. Josephine and her family face hardships they have never experienced: lack of food, clothing, and money. She begins to understand that this a small taste of the lives their slaves have always lived. The only difference in Lizze and Otis’s life is that they know their children will never be sold or face mistreatment as they did. I was astonished at this historical novel. Ms. Austin was a genius not only in how she presented the historical facts about the Post Civil War era, but also in capturing the personal details and emotions that so many different groups of people faced in its aftermath. I never dreamed of what these people actually dealt with. In many ways the wealthy families coming back were almost as poor as the slaves, but their situations were made worse because they had no skills or knowledge to care for their daily needs and homes. A culture shock confronted them as they were stripped of their money and lavish, snobbish lifestyles. They were broken people with only their self-righteous pride left. The soldiers left as strong, courageous young men only to return shattered emotionally, mentally and some physically. Handicapped individuals then did not have all the medical help and devices to make life easier. Many wished they had died rather than live as a cripple. Some carried the guilt of being alive because their friends died. Then there were the slaves who finally had freedom but had no means or knowledge to embrace it. Their fear of their master’s abuse was replaced with fear being killed by angry ex-slave owners. If they went away, they had no means to support themselves nor any place to go. In staying they are treated with the same disrespect and left with the workload of a household of slaves. This was a very confusing time for them too. Also there were the southerners who fought for the slave’s freedom and wanted to help them in making a new life. They found themselves in danger and hated by the bitter white men of the north for whom they blamed for their losses. On the other hand the slaves feared trusting them because they were white. As if If all this wasn’t remarkable enough, Ms. Austin includes one more very important aspect. In a crisis God is always at work whether we realize it or not. We are either drawn closer to Him or turn away. Not only was I a part of the character’s thoughts and emotions, but she also enabled me to experience their spiritual journey in such a tumultuous time. I will never look at this era the same again. She brought history and the characters alive! This book is a masterpiece you WILL want to read! I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
The Civil War has ended and now Josephine, her mother and younger sister are ready to go home to White Oak Plantation after a long stay with her Aunt. She is not even sure what condition the plantation will be in when they arrive.
She was surprised to find a few slaves had stayed even though they had been declared free of slavery. The house was a shambles but it was still standing. It just needed some cleaning and she was sure her mother would make sure things were put in order. Josephine was shocked by her mother's attitude that she was going to make everything the same as it was before the war. As far as Josephine was concerned nothing would every be the same again.
With the one male ex-slave whom now is to be called a servant there was no way to get the fields planted with cotton. His wife, two young sons and daughter were taking care of the cooking, cleaning and the other chores that Mrs. Weatherly expected to be done daily. Yet there still was not enough hands or time in a day to get everything done according to Mrs. Weatherly's liking. Mrs. Weatherly seemed to treat the servants as if they were still slaves. Josephine tried to help with some of the gardening and chores but it just angered her mother. So Josephine took to doing the chores around the time her mother was napping.
Then things really got out of sorts when Josephine's brother, Daniel came home from the war. It was hoped that he would be able to take over running the plantation. But he was never trained for that position. He had not excepted the fact that the war was over.
Why is it that some people are so focused on the past that they can't seem to go forward? Most wanted to blame God for the war and loss of loved ones. When they lost the war they also lost their faith in God.
The story brought out how wealthy women in the South were so sheltered they had no skills other than how to catch a husband and keeping the servants in line. They had no idea how the clean clothes appeared or the silver polished, etc.
The author wrote of their lack of money, food, clothing, shoes especially trust and they were too proud to ask for help from their new government.
In this book you will see the Post Civil War through the lives of ex-Slaves, southern land owner and Union soldiers.
It was a hard book to put down. I want to say so much more about this book but then you wouldn't have to read it. I really want you to read this book.
Disclosure I received a free copy of this book from Baker/Bethany House Publishing for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my own opinion.
Sometimes I hesitate to read Christian Fiction about a subject that I know can be filled with bitterness, hatred, rage, betrayal and pain as I wonder if it will be "sugar coated" to meet certain CF requirements. No hesitation was needed with this book as the author dealt with it all honestly. I appreciated that it did not end all neatly tied up, I was left wondering what decision the characters eventually made. The story is told in the voices of three women, Eugenia, a Southern lady, her daughter, Josephine and Lizzie their former slave, now freed. The three POVs added dimension to the story and gave a broader perspective to what each was dealing with in the aftermath of the War. The secondary characters are just as interesting. The message that joy can be found no matter what the circumstances is one that is needed today.
This is another enjoyable book by Lynn Austin. She writes about that time after the civil war when times were really tough for the south. It was a great story about the three women,mother, daughter and slave.
I enjoy books in this time period and reading how difficult it was for these people to build back up. I enjoy reading about the slaves and how they were expected to do things without saying anything. Its so good to realize they were able to get their freedom.
(I received a free copy from Bethany House Publishers to review)
I wonder if Lynn Austin can write anything that’s bad. Seriously, because I don’t think it’s possible. With All Things New, Austin once again writes an engaging and compelling story about the aftermath of the Civil War in the South.
Austin’s development of the characters is rich, as each struggles with change suddenly thrust upon in the aftermath and realities of the South losing the war. Not only dealing with the physical loss and pain, but the emotional sides. I really liked the three main characters/voices in the book (Josephine, a young lady, Eugenia, her mother & a widow and Lizzie, a freed slave).
Austin does a fine job of portraying those who let bitterness ruin them, those who moved past the pain, those who struggled to make sense of everything and those who decided to look toward the future and not dwell on the past.
While there was also a sweet romantic story, I loved that that wasn’t the sole focus. The women in the book were strong solid characters that showed what it means to have faith, love, and the power of a resilient spirit. Yet another winner by Austin!
I enjoyed reading 'All Things New'. This book encouraged me to think about how I face situations that are difficult. Do I mope around and play poor me or do I trust God to use me to make things better. I felt the characters rang so true and helped me to examine my heart. It was so true that happiness is not only what God wants for us, but Joy in our circumstances. Too much complaining in the world and not enough prayer. Thank you for using your talent to write stories to bring me closer in my relationship with the Lord. I will be buying this book to give as Christmas gift for my niece.
Each chapter focuses on one of three women-a mother, her daughter, and one of their servants-which I liked. It was easy to follow and gave a deeper understanding to the characters in the story. Each of these women go through different things but one they share is losing faith in God.
The hidden, or not so hidden, truth in this story is that of despair and what it can do to you if you give in to it. After losing everything but their land and their homes during the Civil War, the people in the South were filled with despair. But one Yankee is helping them see just how dangerous giving in to that despair can be and sharing with them how he overcame it. I love how this can be applied to us today. Many are without jobs and struggling to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck, and others may have recently lost a loved one. If we let the despair seep too deep into our hearts, we too can become like the Confederates were; angry and resentful, or even turn our backs on God.
All Things New was filled with emotion. Parts made me angry at the characters while other parts broke my heart. I was encouraged how one Yankee, their enemy, could make such a big difference. Even while he was hated he still continued to do what God told him to do.
I do recommend this book. While its not so much a romantic story, it is engaging to the last page.
****Thank you Bethany House Publishers for the free book in exchange for my honest review.****
I read my review copy of Lynn Austin’s new book All Things New from Bethany House in a few days. It is definitely one of Lynn’s best books to date. Her historical fiction account shows us how one must have felt during and after the civil war. In reading the story of the women returning to their southern plantations after the civil war, I was drawn to the many similarities between history and current events. People have returned after leaving their beloved homes due to tragedy, war, or act of God - the most recent being the storm Sandy. They found that their belongings and homes had either been damaged or were gone; they realized that life would never again be the same. Many of the people returning no longer have electricity, running water or the conveniences of modern life, but the woman after the Civil War returned to complete devastation and had to learn an entire new way of life.
The theme and lesson throughout this book is that you have to look positively at the things you still have and move on without the things you have lost. This theme is timeless, as shown by recent events. Think of the person in New Orleans who found a relic from the past as they were looking through the rubble only to wonder why it had not been washed out to sea. What message did God have for them in that small reminder of the past and present. The same with the people who are living through the recent storms, they have friends and family to help them through it, they have no heat but can layer their clothes to keep warm or go to a shelter that has been set up to provide for them. Rescue workers are there with food and water as well as other supplies. As they sift through the rubble they find things like pictures and mementos to help them remember the past.
In “All Things New” the women coming back to their homes had nothing. Their clothes were old and in need of mending, family members died, returning soldiers were going through what our military is today, and they had no animals or gardens to provide them with the nourishment they needed. But, they were strong; they were used to hard work and trusted in God to help them get through the difficult times and to move ahead. I highly recommend this book as a gift this holiday season for someone who needs to have a little bit of a boost or who wants to believe that the future will be brighter. I give it five stars out of five.
After unexpectedly receiving a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers, I could hardly wait to start reading this book. Local author Lynn Austin uses the memories of her characters to capture the regal grandeur and appalling injustice of the Antebellum cotton plantations. Her All Things New: A Novel begins with the end of the Civil War; as expected, the generations handle the new situation differently. Realistically tackling the problems of the Reconstruction of the South, Miss Josephine and the Yankee Mr. Chandler express very modern thoughts about God and religion. Although from opposite ends of the plantation hierarchy, the matrons Lizzie and Eugenia find it equally difficult to think in the new ways. As people do, given the chance and necessity, the characters all grow toward the light of hope. Serious topics like the mental toll of war, families divided by principles, statutory rape, and class barriers are addressed from primarily feminine viewpoints, so there is considerable discussion matter for a book club. Be warned: only the book's considerable length will keep members from reading the whole novel in one sitting. For the books I choose to review, I am required in the spirit of love to keep a generally positive tone, and I am required in the spirit of truth to be honest.
I always get really excited about Lynn Austin books, so when I got this book for review, I happily skipped to my Christmas list, crossed All Things New off, and thankfully landed on my bed with a thud! and began to read.
All Things New is set during the tumultuous times of the Reconstruction. It focuses on three women: Proper plantation owner’s wife Eugenia, who’s lost everything in the War; her daughter, Josephine, and their freed slave, Lizzie.
This book was not, strictly speaking, a "happy" book. It was set in a time in the aftermath of destruction and strife, and yet there is still a glimmer of hope that not only keeps the characters going, but keeps the reader turning pages, too.
Out of the three women, I probably enjoyed Josephine’s story the most, but the other two women’s stories were interesting as well. I admit that sometimes this book was hard to read, because of the bitterness so many of the characters had and the struggles they had to go through.
Basically, these three characters are struggling with their place: Eugenia and Josephine have grown up in a world where they have been protected and safe and pampered: they’ve never had to face hardship or even make decisions, because the men always decided everything. But now the men are gone and things have turned over and upside down. Jo embraces her new role; Eugenia fights it. And then there’s Lizzie, who struggles to know exactly what it means to be free, and still has a hard time facing her fears about disobeying those who have always been "above" her.
Each woman has a special man in her life, and I loved how each of these men really helped the women grow and adapt: there’s Alexander Chandler, the Yankee who’s come to try to rebuild the South; David Hunter, the doctor who’s always been a comfort to the family; and Otis, Lizzie’s faith-filled husband.
There were other characters who also intrigued me; namely, Harrison Blake, who was such a tortured person, so weighed down by his helplessness and guilt that I hated him and felt sorry for him at the same time. Really, he was probably the character I found the most interesting.
All Things New isn’t my favorite Austin book, but I enjoyed reading it and would recommend to those who enjoy reading about the Civil War, or other books by the author.
I recieved this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Keen insight to moving on after hard time and change. Well done historical fiction. One can better understand southern culture after reading this book. Sometimes things can never be the same again but, one must move on. Good life lessons..
I’m not a big fan of historical fiction. I picked up this book because I thought it was about something else entirely. (Not quite sure where I got the idea, but I thought it was about a girl who entered a motorcar race.) So I was a little surprised, and not in a good way, when I found out it was not what I thought it was.
But I decided to give it a hundred pages anyway. And am I ever glad I did!
I’d just finished a unit on the Civil War in history class. But my history book had nothing on this. My history book told me about how cruel people were to the newly freed blacks – this book showed me the former slaves being threatened by hateful whites. My history book told me how hard reconstruction was for the south – this book showed me the way Eugenia and Daniel nearly destroyed White Oak by refusing to let go of old beliefs.
This book gave me a new respect for historical fiction. History has nothing on this.
Josephine came across, even in the beginning, as a strong-willed girl with the courage to defy her upbringing and do what needs to be done (even if her mother doesn’t think she should be doing it). I enjoyed how willing she was to pitch in and help with the dishes or in the garden. And I liked watching her fall in love and find her faith.
Eugenia drove me insane – at least in the beginning. I wanted to slap her and say, “Wake up and smell the gunpowder, honey! Your life is never going to be what it was before!” But she was so determined that everything was going to be exactly the same and she was going back to her life of privilege where slaves did all the work. For the first half of the book, I thought she was the bad guy. And then, it turns out she was capable of change.
Lizzie, the only former slave who stuck around, was also a very prominent character. She was the one who really drove home for me just how badly slaves – and former slaves – were treated. She was, what, thirty? And she’d been through so much. I just can’t imagine living in constant fear that the white people would sell her family away, or beat her, or do something else horrible. It was just…I always knew abolishing slavery was a good thing, but I didn’t realize just how good it was for the slaves.
The plot is basically these three women trying to put their lives back together after the war. I liked the three different perspectives – the slave who barely dares to dream that she’s really free, the former mistress of the house who wants nothing more than for things to go back to the way they were, and the former privileged white girl who accepts the changes. They butted heads sometimes, but they all started reconstructing their lives. There were bleak parts, but there was also hope.
I was completely astonished by how much I liked this book. I won’t be so quick to discount historical fiction in the future.
*I received a free review copy of All Things New from Bethany House publishers. Their generosity did not influence, or seek to influence, this review.*
Wow! What an amazing book! I have to say, Lynn Austin is definitely one of my favorite authors! The story is extremely well written and gripping from the very beginning. I found the plot to be well done, and each of the three leading ladies to be interesting in their own way. The romantic aspects of the book were not overdone, but were very realistic. I greatly enjoyed this book and look forward to more from Lynn Austin. I received this book from the publisher in exhange for my fair and honest review.
In the closing days of the American Civil War, the inhabitants of Richmond, Virginia, are packing up their belongings to flee for their lives in advance of the invading Yankee army. Josephine Weatherly of White Oak Plantation, aged 22, has lost her father, her brother, and her faith in God during the war. Her mother, Eugenia, has lost an entire way of life and must work out how to hold her home and family together in this new world. Lizzie was a slave the plantation who is now free, but has no idea what that means.
The story is told in the third person, alternating between the viewpoints of these three characters. I immediately liked Jo and Lizzie, but found Eugenia very annoying. She was naïve, expecting everything to return to how it was before the war, although I did come to admire the way she slowly began to think and act for herself, rather than relying on the old ways.
Josephine tries to look to a realistic future, not the dream future her mother imagines. She wants to learn some practical skills, like cooking and gardening, that will help them survive in a world without slaves, but has to fight her mother at every turn over her doing work that is ‘beneath her’. She meets a Northern soldier, a Quaker, who challenges her views on God, and faces danger as he challenges the racist views of her Southern neighbours. This was probably the best part of the story.
There is more than a little ingrained racism in Eugenia’s attitudes, and those of several of her friends, as well as in the young men who survived the war. Modern readers are likely to find these attitudes offensive. But that was the reality of life for her, all she had ever known. All Things New holds a challenge for interracial relations that is as valid and potentially as important now as it was in 1866, and addresses these issues well, without descending into cliché, crusading or preaching (although this is clearly a Christian novel).
Lynn Austin's previous Civil War series (Refiner’s Fire) told the story of the War Between The States from the point of view of a Southern woman, a Northern woman and a slave, and the books were outstanding (if you haven't read them, then do. Two of the three won Christy Awards). All Things New was good, but not great. The writing was excellent, but was let down by too many characters and too many subplots. I thought the three points of view were almost trying to do too much: perhaps this would have been better as three separate books.
Thanks to Baker Publishing and Netgalley for providing a free ebook for review.
I was first introduced to Lynn Austin's work several years ago when I read "Candle in the Darkness." I was impressed by her portrayal of the Civil War era and the depth of Austin's writing. When I picked up "All Things New," I wondered how it would compare to the "Refiner's Fire" series. Although the basis of the setting is the same, "All Things New" is original and absorbing.
Austin has a talent for relaying stories from various perspectives and layering them into one cohesive novel. Josephine, Eugenia, and Lizzie each bring unique experiences and backgrounds to "All Things New," and I enjoyed each of them. Austin keeps the story engaging by alternating the focus of each chapter to one of the three women. Change and fear are common elements in the lives of Jo, Eugenia, and Lizzie as they attempt to rebuild their lives following the Civil War. Jospehine and her mother, Eugenia, find themselves nearly destitute and constrained by pre-war expectations. Meanwhile, as a former slave, Lizzie is battling the dream of freedom and prejudices of Southern society. Each character steadily grows and develops as the novel progresses. The intertwining of their lives and their reactions to challenges create a multi-dimensional plot.
The primary and secondary characters have faced four years of devastating war and now face a vastly altered lifestyle. As a result, emotions are strong and complex. Fear, love, faith, prejudice, hatred, forgiveness, bitterness, self-pity, hope, and healing are among the topics addressed in the novel. Austin incorporates a range of riveting moments in "All Things New." Some are emotional and introspective, others are action-oriented; they are all compelling. Lynn Austin has once again written a well-developed, must-read novel with poignant themes.
I received a complimentary copy of from Netgalley, courtesy of Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
"All Things New" has easily become one of my favorite books by Lynn Austin - and for an author who has won no less than seven Christy Awards, that is saying a lot! The book was so good I read it from start to finish in one day, finding it difficult to tear myself away from the moving and emotional story of Josephine, Lizzie and Eugenia. Austin effortlessly weaves their stories together into a well-thought out and entertaining plot that is filled with top-notch drama, excellent historical detail, and a soul-stirring look at faith and suffering. Josephine was the character I admired the most, as she struggled through her beliefs about God and emerged stronger for it, not only in her faith but also as a person and as a woman who was no longer content to let others define her life. Austin writes with her usual skill, and I found myself fully immersed in this powerful story such that I was sad to see it end.
Here is a book that is worth reading more than once, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that a sequel is in the works! I highly recommend All Things New, and urge you to get a copy for yourself. 5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.