In 1861, Lyndel Keim and her beau, Nathaniel, witness the capture of two runaway slaves. As a result, he enlists in the Union Army while she becomes a battlefield nurse---and both are banished from their pacifist Amish colony. But a severe wound at Gettysburg threatens Nathaniel's life. Will this momentous battle change the war---and their future?
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Murray Pura is one of a few men who are successfully penning Amish romantic fiction. The Face of Heaven has something for male readers as well as female readers. This piece of historical fiction beautifully expresses the pain, suffering, and horror of a war that pitted brother against brother. Nathaniel, Lyndel, and Levi leave their Amish roots and farmlands to enter the action of the Civil War. They seek to bring healing to a nation and an end to slavery of fellow humans. This book was particularly interesting to me as I grew up in Appomattox, Virginia. Lee surrendered to Grant in the McLean House in Appomattox and it was pleasing to see the accuracy of the details in Murray Pura's writing. Reading historical fiction, in this case, left me with a hope for the future. I was able to look back at where we have been and dream ahead to where we still might venture. This book will touch your heart as you agonize, along with the main characters, at choices that had to be made....choices that drove families apart.....choices that pitted north against south....choices that begged freedom or slavery...choices....choices....make the choice to read this incredible story and look into "the face of heaven".
THE FACE OF HEAVEN by Murray Pura is an intriguing Amish fiction,Civil war saga.#2 in "Snapshots of History" series,but can be read as a stand alone. See, "The Wings of Morning". Follow Lyndel Keim and Nathaniel King as they navigate a war torn country,the horrors of war,faith,the aftermath of a savage conflict,being at odds with their faith,slavery,forgiveness,healing and love. A powerful and dramatic story of the historic battle of Antietam and its effects on everyone. A must read for not only Amish readers but for anyone who enjoys stories of the American Civil War and its aftermath. Received for an honest review from the publisher and Wynn-Wynn Media. Details can be found at Harvest House Publisher,the author's website and My Book Addiction and More.
HEAT RATING: SWEET
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews
I'm not a huge fan of Amish Novels, but I haven't read anything like this before. Studying history has always been a hobby and I do enjoy a good historical novel. Every lesson is always more impactful when in story form. I know Face of Heaven isn't intended to be a history lesson, but it really did spark in me more of an interest in the Civil War. It was entertaining and informative. I found it very brave of the author to tackle the Civil War and the Amish at the same time. Those are both very controversial subjects that are difficult to portray accurately while being concise. The battle scenes are very descriptive and yet not boring or hard to follow. Also, I thought the romance was handled in just the right way. The book was very romantic without being over the top gushy. This book is a smorgasbord of topics - The Amish and war (of course), Nursing and The Civil War, Romance and War, Family Dynamics and Disappointments - and that is just quickly off the top of my head. Really I enjoy reading anything by Murray Pura and once again he did not disappoint.
Murray Pura has penned a poignant read in The Face of Heaven, grabbing my attention from the first couple of chapters and holding me captive until the stirring conclusion. As with his prior book I reviewed, The Wings of Morning, I greatly enjoyed his take on the Amish community, and found it highly interesting to watch them grapple with how their community should respond to the injustice of slavery and their response to the civil war. My favourite line is when Nathaniel questions their stance not to participate in the war, when he says "Or does he want us to do something about it? Does God come in a mist and plant our corn for us? Harvest our wheat while we watch? Hitch our horses to our wagons and plows and carriages? So why do we think he will stop evil without our hands and feet and hearts?" Such a question makes me stop and think for sure, and there were many moments during the book that made me pause in introspection (and, I admit, even a scene where tears welled in my eyes!).
Nathaniel and Lyndel are wonderful characters, richly drawn and full of feeling and realism. The author has succeeded at truly bringing them to life and causing you to care about them and their story, which has been wonderfully placed in a vivid historical setting that all together makes for a compelling tale. I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy historical fiction and Amish stories, and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Harvest House, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Murray Pura in his new book, “The Face of Heaven” Book Two in the Snapshots in History series published by Harvest House Publishers takes us into the lives of Nathanial King and Lyndel Keim over the course of The Civil War.
From the Back Cover: Can An Amish man go to war and not lose his faith?
Can an Amish Woman become a battlefield nurse and not lose her family?
In April 1861, Lyndel Keim discovers two runaway slaves in her family’s barn. When the men are captured, Lyndel and her young Amish beau, Nathaniel King, find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish colony
As word reaches the Amish settlement that the nation is now involved in a civil war, Nathaniel enlists in what will become the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army. Lyndel enters the fray as a Brigade nurse, sticking close to Nathaniel as they both witness the horrors of war. Despite the pair’s heroic sacrifices, the Amish only see that Lyndel and Nathaniel have become part of the war effort, and both are shunned.
When Nathaniel is caught up in the severe battle at Antietam in the fall of 1862, Lyndel must call upon her faith in God to face its painful aftermath, not knowing if Nathaniel is alive or dead. Will the momentous battle change her life forever, just as it will change the course of the war and the history of her country?
This stirring Civil War novel, culminating with a heroic stand at Gettysburg in the summer of 1863, pits the injustice of slavery against the pacifism of the Amish and the love of the two courageous young plain folk.
I love history and “The Face of Heaven” is loaded with it without it becoming a school history textbook. Mr. Pura looks at The Civil War from the point of view of the Amish. I have now learned that the Amish are pacifists and are opposed to war so when both Nathaniel and Lyndel join the Union Army their community shuns them, or shuts them out, because they feel the couple has given up their Amish beliefs. However, both feel strongly that slavery must be dealt with and their country is worth fighting, and dying, for. ”The Face of Heaven” is an adventure story filled with detailed battle scenes that will make you feel that you are there witnessing the event. It is also a thriller as both Nathaniel and Lyndel’s lives are in danger during the course of the war. ”The Face of Heaven” is also a romance that is all about relationships and that is what makes this book a winner. I enjoyed this book a lot and am looking forward to more by Mr. Pura.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Harvest House Publishers for this review. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
In The Face of Heaven, Murray Pura has penned a powerful, literary masterpiece, set during one of the most tumultuous, heartbreaking times in our country's history--the Civil War. The whipping and hanging of an innocent man near an Amish farmhouse forever changes the course of three young Amish people's lives; Lyndel Keim, her brother Levi, and her beau, Nathaniel King. In spite of being pacifists, they remain haunted by what they have witnessed, and feel compelled to follow the call to join the Union forces.
Lyndel obtains permission to work in the midst of the battlefield, nursing the wounded before they are taken to the hospital, and finds herself serving both the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. Nathaniel King serves in one of the most courageous regiments in the Union army, the 19th Indiana Brigade, and Lyndel finds her way to him which results in a bittersweet reunion for the two. Separated by the horrific battle of Gettysburg, Nathaniel is severely wounded, and Lyndel must call upon her faith in God; not knowing whether the love of her life is dead or alive. Will she have the strength and the courage to keep nursing the wounded?...when her beloved is lying out there somewhere; possibly dead?
Murray Pura has written a brilliant novel; destined to become a classic. This book evoked so many intense emotions in me-heartbreak, horror, elation, and most of all pride...pride in this great country of ours, and of the men and women who gave their lives to truly make it "the land of the free and the home of the brave." At times my emotions were at such a peak, I had to place the book down, only to find myself picking it right back up--truly a page turner. *WARNING* This novel relives the battles of the Civil War and may not be suitable for more genteel readers. War is not pretty, and there is a lot of carnage, violence, and the harsh realities of war in this book. Though an intense novel, the love story within its pages is timeless and beautiful, and with a strong, spiritual thread throughout this is a definite must read for history/romance lovers everywhere! Very nicely done, Mr. Pura!
I received a copy of this book from Net Galley and was not required to write a positive review.
The Face of Heaven by author Murray Pura made a believer out of me. I can now say that I love Amish fiction! I was certain I wouldn’t and couldn’t imagine why a man had opted to write it. But once I started turning the pages to this captivating book, I understood not only why he wrote it, but why I had to read it. The message is life-changing, the writing superb, and the characters believable. Don’t miss this one!
"The Face of Heaven" by Murray Pura is a romance placed during the Civil War. The novel is heavy on Civil War and light on romance. Lyndel and Nathaniel are friends who live in the same Amish community in Lancaster County during the 1860's. While working the farm Lyndel finds two runaway slaves hiding in her barn. She goes to the aid of her brother and his best friend, Nathaniel, to keep them safe. Eventually they are caught and there becomes somewhat of a civil war between the Amish on whether the Amish should be for or against slavery. For or against fighting for slavery. Nathaniel choses to leave the community and fight on the side of the north to end slavery; Lyndel follows him and serves as a nurse for the North. The book follows them throughout the war. This novel has a lot of information on Civil War. At times it reads like a text book. The romance and the characters take a backseat to the details of the war. There almost is no plot beyond the war. I, a history buff and not a huge fan of Amish fiction, thought that was in favor of the book, however, I can see someone who was looking for more romance or Amish being disappointed. I would recommend this book to all history lovers, especially women, but not so much to your run of the mill romance reader. I received this book for free from http://www.netgalley.com/.
I love it when an author will find a way to put a unique and unexpected twist into something we would never have considered and as a reader seeing it with new eyes! That is just what author, Murray Pura has done in his recent novel, The Face of Heaven. He has delightfully taken two of my personal favorite genre's and blended them so wonderfully together that is makes a readers heart sing!
In The Face of Heaven, we meet the Keim's, your typical Amish family living and working hard on their farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1861. As Lyndel Keim, is finishing her chores in the barn she stumbles across two slaves running from the law, Charlie Preston and Moses Gunnison. Charlie is badly wounded and this is his third attempt at trying to make it North to find freedom at last while the Civil War is just beginning. Lyndel knows if she confronts her father, the Bishop, he will not lie but turn the men over to the sheriff if he comes looking for the men. So instead she finds her brother, Levi and his best friend Nathaniel King and enlists their aid.
Just as they are preparing to take care of Charlie's wounds, Lyndel's father comes in and is considerably upset that neither of his children felt they could trust him to do the right thing and care for the men. He has them moved upstairs and immediately cared for. As night falls, the Bishop gathers the elders at his home to discuss how to care for the men who have come to his home and it's obvious that some feel these men being slaves should be returned to their masters on the Virginia plantation and so the men are divided on the best course for what they should do.
Just as they are about to adjourn, there is a pounding on the door, and when Bishop Keim opens the door, the sheriff is there hearing that the runaways slaves are being cared for there. When Bishop Keim confirms that, the slave owners rush into the house looking for the men, Nathaniel blocks the staircase and tries to prevent them from being taken while they are still healing, but the men push past him and search the house looking for the men. When they take them bound and place them in the wagon, Nathaniel and Lyndel know that this is not God's will, and so the war within begins.
The Face of Heaven blends two wonderful genres of Amish Fiction along with Historical Fiction with a blend of suspense, action adventure and of course just the right touch of romance. Nathaniel is not going to stand idly by and watch the country he loves being turned over to the likes of the slave owners without a fight, even if it means being shunned by his church and community. The story really entices the reader is so many ways in such a perfect blending of lyrical words to describe the setting and the characters in the story that you feel everything as though you are actually there. He has truly found something amazing and it's not the only time Murray Pura has blended genres so well together. His first book, The Wings of Morning is another I will definitely be checking out and is on my MUST READ list. For those of you looking for something different, this is it and why I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars.
I received The Face of Heaven by Murray Pura compliments of Harvest House Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review.
GENRE: HISTORICAL/AMISH ROMANCE PUBLISHER: HARVEST HOUSE PUBLICATION DATE: AUGUST 01, 2012 RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 - EXCELLENT
PROS: Engaging romance; excellent discussion about the practicalities of pacifism; battle scenes bring the Civil War to life
CONS: Initial set up seems very similar to first book; characters sometimes have a deeper understanding of the war than seems believable
As tension is building in the South in 1861, Lyndel Keim and Nathaniel King couldn't be more detached from the conflict in their Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While they debate the evils of slavery and whether the confederate states really pose a threat to the union, all of these thoughts are purely theoretical until Lyndel discovers two runaway slaves in her family's barn. The reality of slavery is suddenly made apparent to Lyndel, Nathaniel and their families, and when the slaves are recaptured by their master, Nathaniel cannot help but wish he had done more to protect them. Under the guise of visiting another Amish community in Indiana, Nathaniel signs on to fight for the Union army, leaving his blossoming relationship with Lyndel behind in Pennsylvania. But Lyndel understands Nathaniel's desire to fight the battle against slavery, and quickly volunteers as a nurse in a hospital in Washington. War cannot keep them apart for long, and Lyndel finds herself closer and closer to the battlefield every day, witnessing the true horror of war as she treats men who have been pulled from the fields of battle only moments before. Like her family back home in Lancaster, Lyndel longs for the fighting to end, but until then, she will nurse as many men as possible - Union and Confederate alike. But her family doesn't understand her desire to help, and interprets her work as aiding the war efforts rather than diminishing it. How can Lyndel and Nathaniel, raised as pacifists but now living in the midst of a raging war, explain to their families that war may be the only way to put an end to the evils of slavery?
When I began to read The Face of Heaven, I couldn't help but find a few similarities to the first book in the Snapshots in History series, The Wings of Morning. As in the first in the series, an Amish man bears arms in a war that the rest of his Amish community opposes, and his beau takes to nursing, also bearing scrutiny from her friends and family. Considering how quickly the roles of soldier and nurse fell into place for Nathaniel and Lyndel in The Face of Heaven, I was a little worried that I was reading a repeat of the storyline from The Wings of Morning, simply set during a different war. But as I got further into the novel, it became clear that Murray was going to take Nathaniel and Lyndel's story on an entirely different route from the protagonists in the first book in the series, and their involvement in the war against the wishes of their pacifist Amish community really were the only similarities they bore to the characters in The Wings of Morning.
When discussing pacifism with friends or family, the same statement is bound to be made at some point during the conversation: "Pacifism just isn't practical." While reading The Face of Heaven, I got the impression that this was how Nathaniel felt about the Civil War and the fight against slavery. He could not sit idly by and wait for the Englishers to settle the matter on their own, as he may have done if the conflict were over any other matter. I doubt that Nathaniel, or any of the other Amish men who fought in the Civil War, would have been so eager to take arms if this had been a war about ownership of land. Their belief that God created all men equal, even those of a different race from themselves, was what propelled them into bearing arms despite their previous convictions on the matter. Continually throughout this novel I got a sense of the conflict of interests regarding war and taking another man's life in battle. Was it right to kill if you were saving someone else's life? Setting someone else free from the chains of slavery? Fighting for what you knew was right according to God's Word? As someone with serious pacifist leanings, I could really sympathise with Nathaniel's internal conflict, and I'm sure other readers will find themselves similarly wrapped up in it.
While the romance in The Wings of Morning was rather minimal, since Lyyndaya and Jude were in separate countries for a large portion of the book, the relationship between Lyndel and Nathaniel in The Face of Heaven was definitely more to my liking. Although their courtship was only beginning when Nathaniel decided to join the Union army, it was kept alive by letters and brief encounters when Lyndel was allowed to nurse at the front lines of the battle. The growth of their relationship seemed very realistic, considering the conflict, and I was rooting for them to stay together despite all that was conspiring to keep them apart. I can see why wartime romances are among the most popular, with every moment the hero and heroine spend together having a heightened sense of importance, since it may very well be the last time they see each other. I didn't realise quite how enraptured I'd become with Lyndel and Nathaniel's relationship until Lyndel went searching for Nathaniel after the battle of Gettysburg. I'm not going to deny it; there were tears in my eyes as Lyndel searched for her beau.
If I have one major complaint to make about The Face of Heaven, it has to be the character of Hiram and the amount of detail he was able to provide on any area of the war at any time. I know that as a newspaper reporter, he would know a lot more about the war than the average soldier or nurse since he had more contact with the outside world, but at times it did feel like he was quoting passages from my high school history textbook. I often thought that Nathaniel and Lyndel understood the war and how it was progressing in a manner that wasn't entirely realistic, even considering their friendship with Hiram. Likewise, I didn't completely buy into how quickly Nathaniel and Lyndel decided they needed to take a stand against slavery, in response to their one incident with the runaway slaves. Although these factors didn't entirely disrupt my enjoyment of the novel, there were just a few moments when the characters' understanding of the progression of the war didn't seem completely realistic, or seemed to be contrived for the sake of moving the story along, as in the case of Nathaniel and Lyndel's strong thoughts on slavery at the start of the novel.
What I loved most about this book wasn't the emotionally heightened romance or the portrayal of an Amish man's desire to fight against slavery. In all honesty, it was the way in which Murray brought the battles of the US Civil War to life on the page. When I studied this war in my final year of high school, I enjoyed learning about the run up to the war, the aftermath and the end of slavery, but the facts about the battles themselves genuinely bored me to sleep. But Murray brought realism to these ordeals and humanised them, making me care about how the war progressed, in a way that I hadn't cared when I was in high school. I can appreciate this book for making me take an interest in whether Lyndel would ever see Nathaniel again, and for helping me to understand the internal conflict that the characters felt about their pacifist upbringing, but what has remained with me after finishing this book is the level of realism I felt in each and every one of the battle scenes. Even if you're normally put off by bonnets, buggies or any form of romance, The Face of Heaven is worth reading purely for the way in which it brings the US Civil War to life. I have high hopes for the third and final book in the Snapshots in History series and can't wait to read Murray's take on the Second World War.
The main characters Lyndel Keim and Nathaniel King are Amish. After they witnessed the brutal treatment of runaway slaves, their lives are changed forever. They are just starting to fall in love when Nathaniel joins the Army. Some time later Lyndel follows him as an Army nurse. After about a year they finally see each other again.
Now that both have become a part of the war effort, they are banished from their Amish community. Despite of the war their love grows. And despite of they're being banished they still live up to their faith.
Nathaniel fights in several well known battles. It's nice to read about the camaraderie among Nathaniel's platoon. I almost felt a part of them and could imagine the bullets whistling around my head.
Lyndel cares for the many wounded soldiers. It's not always pleasant to read about the battle injuries, but it was reality. When loved ones get seriously injured, is Lyndel able to nurse them back to health?
This book truly is a page turner and a masterpiece! Awesome job, Murray!
*Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my review copy. I was not required to write a positive review.*
I read Wings of Morning and was so glad when I received this advanced manuscript free from Jeanne of Wynn Wynn Media to post my reviews.
I like to read about the Amish and I also love history so this book covers both. Coming into the story on the heels of Wings of Morning, Lyndel Keim finds two runaway slaves in her family's barn. But the men are captured and this hurt Lyndel and her boyfriend Nathaniel's hearts so they deside to enlist with the Union Army. She as a nurse and and he as a solider. Nathaniel was hurt really bad in the war of Gettysburg and they just have to trust God to heal him. Lyndel didn't know where he was of if he was alive or dead, as the war rages on.
They both went against the Amish teaching of not fighting in a battle of any kind so they were both banished from the community. The battle and the banishing changes their lives forever.