Austin Returns with a Multi-Generational Historical Novel
Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she's asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.
At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.
Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.
Eight-time Christy Award winner Austin tells the tale of two women from different eras tied together by circumstance in this work of historical Christian fiction set in 1897 Holland, Mich. Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson is on vacation with her mother, recovering from an engagement that ended when she disobeyed her fianc 's wishes to stay away from a particular church. Haunted by a nightmare of a shipwreck and confused by the fact that she understands a few words of Dutch, Anna is also on a mission to discover the truth about her birth mother. Geesje de Longe is one of the original settlers of Holland. She and her family made the dangerous voyage from the Netherlands to America in search of religious freedom when she was seventeen. Fifty years later, she has been asked to record the story of her life, but she is hesitant to share "all the times despaired of God's love." The two stories are connected and deftly interwoven, but Geesje's is the more compelling. She faces incredible hardships and personal loss. Despite her doubts, her story is a testament to faith and trust in God. By comparison, Anna has lived a charmed life. Her search for God and a purpose in life are authentic, but the stakes seem much lower. Although the dual story lines are unbalanced, Austin has crafted an interesting, historically accurate portrait of two profoundly different characters: one looking back at life, the other taking her first faltering steps toward independence.