Reviewed by Sheryl Root
A Tendering in the Storm by
"Whenever I finish a book by Jane Kirkpatrick, I feel slightly dazed. It's as if I'm waking out of a vivid dream ... how can I be in the 21st century when I've just spent hours in another time and place?"
A Tendering in the Storm is the second book in Jane Kirkpatrick’s Change and Cherish series. The series is based on the true-life story of Emma Wagner Giesy, the lone woman in a party of ten scouts that traveled in 1853 from Missouri to Oregon to find a new site for their religious community.
Emma is kind-hearted, but also strong-willed and questioning of the many rules set by their leader, Herr Keil. Her hardest cross to bear is the common fund, with all members of the community contributing their income and each family taking what they need. Emma longs for something of her own, just for herself and her family; something not owned by the entire community.
A Clearing in the Wild, the first book in the series, tells the story of the scouts’ trip from Bethel to Oregon, their early days finding a place to settle, and the community’s later arrival. In A Tendering in the Storm, the community is settling in Aurora Mills, Oregon, with the smaller colony the scout’s founded continuing to build in Willapa, Washington. Emma encourages her husband, Christian, to seek independence for their family apart from the community. Then tragedy strikes and Emma finds herself alone, pregnant, and responsible for her two small children, living in the remote wilderness of Washington Territory.
Emma’s loss, pain, and disappointment lead her to make some poor choices, turning away from God and those in the community who seek to help her. Instead, she ends up in a relationship that almost destroys both she and her children. At the point of despair, Emma must choose to continue in her own waning strength, or humble herself and ask for help from God and the people she once so eagerly sought to leave behind.
While A Clearing in the Wild was written entirely from Emma’s viewpoint, A Tendering in the Storm alternates Emma’s perspective with that of Louisa Keil’s, wife of colony leader Wilhelm Keil. Louisa at first seems to be the very opposite of headstrong Emma. However, as their stories evolve, you realize both women are more alike than not, in the end becoming a great support to one another.
Whenever I finish a book by Jane Kirkpatrick, I feel slightly dazed. It’s as if I’m waking out of a vivid dream … how can I be in the 21st century when I’ve just spent hours in another time and place. Her skill at weaving extensive historical research into a compelling and captivating story is a benchmark to work toward for all historical fiction authors. I also take away a deeper appreciation for what history has to reveal to us and a desire to write as well as Jane does, capturing the dry and dusty facts of historical record and fleshing out an authentic, impossible-to-put down story that teaches at the same time it enthralls.
The cover art on both books in this series is breathtaking. Kudos to the designer! I also enjoyed the interview questions with Jane at the end of each book sharing behind-the-scene insights into her research and writing of the series.
I eagerly await the third and final book in the series, A Mending at the Edge.
Sheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.