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All Things New

All Things New is a historical fiction novel by Lynn Austin.

The Civil War has just come to a demoralizing close for the South. So many died. Land has been destroyed. And a way of life has been crumbled…

Josephine Weatherly is struggling to return to her previous position of eldest daughter in a privileged household when her family returns to their Virginia plantation. Everything is a shell of its former self. Just like her. Her spirit, her faith has been shattered – her father and oldest brother are dead. The return home of her remaining brother Daniel is no help – he’s even more bitter and broken than she is.

Eugenia, Josephine’s mother, clings to the hope that she can get things back up on their feet, especially now that her son is back. She wants to make sure her daughters are married to good husbands soon, as there aren’t many young men left. But her wish to get the plantation back to its prosperous past is halted by the fact that very few of their former slaves have remained.

Lizzie is one of those few. She battles with her own hopes – the hope that she will now never be separated from her children or husband. Her hope for her children to grow up free. But her own past has left her reluctant to believe such wonderful things are possible.

These three women are working to rebuild their lives in a suddenly different world…

The cover of All Things New is truly lovely, I think. It draws you in like a painting and gives an excellent impression of the feel of the book itself. Which, as all bibliophiles know, is not always the case.

All Things New had a stark, real feel to it that takes us to varying perspectives. All the characters are adjusting to a new way of life, each with difficulty. The sting of sadness and cynicism can almost be tasted as you read the believable prose.

This is an emotionally tense, heartbreaking novel that is not a fun, easy read – but instead lingers in your mind between setting it down. I found it affecting my mood – leaving me reflective and melancholy often. All Things New is a disheartening character study at times – but I, of course, always hoped for a happy ending.

When a love story sneaks up in the later stages of All Things New, it never takes over the more steadfast goal of this book – which is the focus of the brutal transition of expectations and beliefs after the Civil War. It’s definitely worth giving attention, especially if the era interests you.

All Things New is an excellently written, deep, somber read that does manage to be uplifting and memorable in a personal, intimate way. But I’ll admit I was glad to move on to more cheerful, lighthearted stories afterwards!

*I received a copy of All Things New from the Bethany House Book Reviewers program, which you can check out here. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

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