Emma of Aurora is a compendium of the three books of the "Change & Cherish" trilogy by Jane Kirkpatrick. In this sizable 1153 page volume, the complete text of the three novels: A Clearing in the Wild, A Tendering in the Storm and A mending at the Edge, are contained. These novels are based on the true life account of Emma Wagner Giesy.As with Kirkpatrick's other works of historical fiction, this book will not disappoint readers who are expecting an in-depth, multilayered story in which a woman of incredible moral strength and perseverance makes decisions that are incomprehensible to today's softened, entitled society. Kirkpatrick writes in the tradition of Bronte's Jane Eye and other classical works featuring strong female characters and in-depth challenges.
Jane Kirkpatrick's fiction stands out as more authentic and engaging than most traditional works under the umbrella called the "Christian" genre. Most "Christian" novels are either Amish love stories or just simply romance stories in general. Even the genre "historical" fiction usually is another name for a romance novel that takes place either in Amish country or in the 1800s old west. True to its claim, it actually is to be considered a historical fiction novel True details about society's standards, the townspeople and technologies are faithfully included. Even the descriptions of towns, characters and circumstances are well researched right to the very last little detail. Historical facts and accuracy enlighten the reader as well as add to the authenticity. This compendium book held my attention from the start. It was not a chore to read- as there is always an engaging setting, or authentic heart wrenching emotional experience. Furthermore, the course of the story and its events were unexpected and as well as the endings. Unlike typical books, in which there is a typical fairy tale happy ending in which the heroine gets married and has children, this story an a non traditional happy ending where as the heroine, a strong, independant woman, remained strong, independant and single despite disspointements, rejection and hardship. This book brought on a new twist to society's perception of a happy ending.
The poignant expressive writing jumps out at the reader. For example, after the birth of Emma's first child, without her husband, Emma finds herself unable to breastfeed her newborn baby. The reader can share in the pain, frustration and desperation as Emma helplessly watches her infant son's life slowly pass away- from the crying and the limpness of her suffering baby. Emma's desperate last hope to reach out to another mother to feed her child shows the fearlessness and desperation of Emma. Emma's reunion with her husband Christian, after the birth of her child is not the fairy tale reunion one would find in a typical romance or Disney movie. In an unexpected turn, her husband is cold, distant and accusatory. This emotional portrayal of a man is characteristic of what one would find in the historical period where this story takes place. While it is true- that the raw emotions and unexpected coldness may not appeal to those readers looking for romance, this is a hallmark of Kirkpatrick- to deliver an entertaining story that is not predictable. This is just what makes her fiction works stand out from the rest.
The author challenges the common social norms of the marital relationship, authority and sense of duty. Emma is portrayed as enthusiastic, wishful and strong- willed woman. She is willing to confront and change society's standard of the role of women. Yet her traditional sense of duty and loyalty ensures that she will obey and follow her husband's wishes. There is no disrespect or refusal. All the characters have distinct yet strong moral characters and a strong sense of familial duty, and religious faith even though the expression is vastly different.
There is risk and danger involved- physical and emotional as well, yet hope drives Helga to pursue the course. A map chronicles the path of their journey. I found myself turning to the map in order to get a preview of how far into their journey that they were. Yet, the story doesn't have the traditional happy ending as the author and her family are faced by disapointments and hardships. The reader follows Emma's life in the saga. There is a sense that the reader follows along in real-time, the span of her life throughout these three books. Authentic touches such as the "Cast of Characters", the maps, the German and Chinook glossary and finally the "The Aurora Colony Articles of Agreement- 1867" add extra historical richness to this account. As a blogger for WaterBrook publishers I received this book for the purpose of writing this review. the opinions expressed are my own.