Thomas Nelson Publishers once again supplied me with a wonderful book to read in return for my review of it. This book had to pass through a lot of hands to finally make it to me, though. I agreed to read it thinking it would come BEFORE we left the States. It came, in fact, the day after we left for Paraguay. So my mom retrieved it from our mailbox 2 weeks later, she passed it to my mother-in-law, who gave it to my sister-in-law, who'd heard through a friend-of-a-friend that someone somebody knew was making a trip to Paraguay. So my sister-in-law (God bless her) tracked this nice lady down and asked her to bring a care package to us in her luggage, including the book and some much needed pop-tarts.
The lady with the book happened to come and go while we were in Argentina, so she left the book with the missionaries she was visiting. My friend in the city agreed to go by the home of these other missionaries to retrieve the book, and we met her husband later to pick it up. The afternoon after I got it, we lost power in a thunderstorm that lasted well into the night. What was there to do but read? I devoured this book in one pleasant evening. So three months and a lot of hands later, I finally got to read In the Shadow of the Sun King, by first-time fictional author Golden Keyes Parsons. Let me say right off the bat that it was worth the wait, and thanks to all those who got it into MY hands.
The book is historical fiction, based in seventeenth century France. The French Protestants (Huguenots) are being persecuted by the Catholics and forced to convert or suffer the violent consequences. The story follows one noble Huguenot family through their persecution, including a visit to the king's court at Versaille and eventual fleeing to Geneva. Madeleine, the lady of the home, must come to terms with her past romantic relationship with the king in the process.
The author was sensitive in her details of the torture inflicted on those refusing to convert, giving enough description to understand the magnitude of the situation, without making me grimace over the finer points of the bloody truth. I definitely appreciated that. I also was a big fan of how human the heroine turned out to be. She was no Super-Christian, blameless and pure, but instead was a real woman struggling with real thoughts and fighting for the safety of her household, including her mother, her three young children, her husband, and a host of servants. I was pleased at how much suspense and adrenaline there was, mixed with love plots and girlie drama. A perfect mix! The author maintained a Christian worldview without being sappy and totally predictable, and without loading the pages with mini-sermons. The sermon was in the lives of these people, fictional characters based on the author's own family tree.
Enough of the conflict was resolved by the end of the story to feel good about closing the back cover, but there's plenty hanging in the wings for the next book in the series, due out August, 2009. Maybe I can get that one in my hands by next Christmas!!