Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nan's Journey | A Review

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I was recently part of a review team for a series of Western based Christian novels by author Elaine Littau. Honestly, I am not big on Christian romance novels. Since getting married and living out my own love story, I have not had an interest in reading anything that might have a romantic twist to it. However, Nan's Journey had quite a different affect on me.

Nan is a fifteen year old girl who has had a hard life. Her father passed away when she was quite young and her mother remarried a horribly cruel man. Not long after, Nan's mother passed away leaving Nan and her brother at the mercy of their step-father and his new wife. Nan experiences a number of life changing moments- almost losing her 6 year old brother to the internal poison of a festering wound, being accepted unconditionally by a beautiful couple who know God's love and want to share it with Nan and Elmer, meeting a young preacher who has lost the love of his life, being assaulted by some mountain men, becoming pregnant because of the traumatic experience, and marrying the young preacher who wants to save her reputation during a time when an assault on a woman was considered her fault.

One of my favorite parts of the story was the way the author wove in aspects of the Gospel based on the experiences that Nan had lived through. For example, the story begins with a beating Nan received at the hand of her step-mother. Nan took this beating in order to spare her younger brother the beating that should have been his. The author uses one of the characters to explain to Nan that the same way she took the beating for her brother, Jesus was whipped for our transgressions and took the penalty of our sins upon himself. At least four times throughout the book a direct connection was to our need for salvation and how one can receive it.

I am a busy mom, who has recently taken on a part time position at our church, yet I was able to finish this book in two evenings. The writing is wonderful- very much a story with a clear direction, yet with twists and turns that keep you at the edge of your seat. There is enough detail to let your mind picture the setting, yet not not so much that it takes an entire paragraph to describe one aspect of a room. There is a definitely a beautiful balance in Elaine's writing.

We were able to participate in an author's interview as part of this team. Here are some of the questions and answers that I think are the most applicable to this review.

Who is your favorite author? What books have influenced you most?

Living authors: Janette Oak and Francine Rivers. Those from the past: Grace Livingston Hill and Hilda Stahl.

Janette Oak’s Love Comes Softly series influenced me a lot because it begins with the start of a family and continues through the generations. I like that format. Hilda Stahl’s White Pine Chronicles had such unexpected twists and turns, I want to write like that.

Where did you get some of your ideas for a Christian Historical Fiction?

For Nan’s Journey the idea came while I was doing dishes one day. I remembered a scene from the television series, Gunsmoke. A teenaged girl had been severely beaten. Her back was bleeding. As a little child, I had never seen anything like that. My mind whirled. Who hurt the girl? How did she get to the doctor? What happened to her after she was treated?

I couldn’t remember how the episode ended so I sat with a legal pad and began to write Nan’s story. I spent a couple of hours writing and my sons got home from school. It was time to be a mom again. I put that legal pad up and dug it out several times in the seven years it took to write it.

For Elk’s Resolve I decided to write a sequel for Nan’s Journey while I still had some courage. My husband helped me brainstorm with ideas about how and when some of the characters would find one another. Many times, just before awakening, ideas of the next scene would go through my mind.

Luke’s Legacy was the book that left me in tears most of the days I wrote it. I think it is an emotional book. I find it interesting that this one is my husband’s favorite. I love the character called ‘Purdy’. She says what a lot of us would like to say but have been taught not to say.

The Eyes of a Stranger came to me as I was thinking about mail-order brides. My first thought was, “If someone ordered me, I’d be sent back for a refund.” The story went on from there.

Some of the chapters from Timothy’s Home came from something that happened when I was three or four years old. My nephew and I were playing with my teenaged brother’s twenty mule team model. Somehow it was broken. Fifty years later I found a model and began putting it together. The kit had a history and interesting facts about the mule team. I researched online and had to use this hard fought knowledge in a book. I don’t like to waste a bit of research if possible.

The Series was completed with those five books. I sort of thought I was through writing but…

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?

Each book has an overlying theme, but the main thing each book carries is that God loves you. He has provided a way for you to overcome your struggles, and He will never leave you in your mess when you ask Him for help.

Nan's Journey (Nan's Heritage Series Book 1) is available for purchase through Amazon for $0.99 for Kindle.

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