CFBA Book Review: The Longing Season

I had the pleasure of reading Christine Schaub’s latest novel in the Music of the Heart series, The Longing Season . Surprisingly fast-paced for a historical novel, this is the first novel I’ve made it all the way through in 2-3 days in recent memory. And there’s really not much to dislike about this one.

True, there were a few mechanical annoyances—standing out most prominently in my memory is the over use of the phrase “she thought” and the like, but that’s not as likely to trip the reader as the abrupt switch from calling a character named Cpt. Alexander Todd from his last name to his first, where some may get the false impression that Todd was his first name, in which case the change to calling him Alex becomes confusing (I had to go back the earlier scene to double check his name myself). Likewise, a few times story lines are dropped, with us hearing second-hand after the fact things that we’d been expecting to witness firsthand.

Besides such issues, Schaub’s novel is a work of excellent craftsmanship, as well as historical authenticity. Her depth of detail by far meets the needs of the genre to bring past periods to life for the reader. Her characters, also, have the kind of depth you would expect from a novel based on the lives of real people. This is not a book that most will find easy to put down.

One need not necessarily be a huge fan of historical novels, a fondness for hymns or, even adventure on the high seas, will suffice. The Longing Season captures the story behind one of the most beloved hymns of all time, Amazing Grace, opening the main action with one-time slave-trader John Newton’s enslavement in Africa after being abandoned by his crew due to sickness, and framing his conversion story around the longing and trials of the girl he left behind England, hence the book’s title.

Naturally, before his conversion, John Newton does aplenty that would be bound to offend, but Schaub handles the mire with the grace of a true lady, and it’s impossible to have a Redemption story without mire. At the same time, she also proves you can portray a foul-mouthed blasphemer without filling your pages up with cursing and blasphemy—or for that matter portray a sexual offender without graphic descriptions of the offense–and yet not soften the reality of the sin.

The bottom line: The Longing Season is church history at it’s finest, and, despite copy that doesn’t smoothly fit the story line, the novel delivers exactly what the back cover promises: one of the greatest Redemption stories of all time.

Partying On at: Adam’s Blog

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