1946. Peggy is living with her father and working at his auto shop, but spends much of her time helping out at the Barnetts’ veterinary practice across the street. She regularly visits her good friend, the Barnetts’ son Jimmy, who was hospitalized due to a suicide attempt after his service in World War II. Determined to help Jimmy, Peggy begins looking for other soldiers who served with him in the war, and for the woman, Gisela, whose picture was among Jimmy’s possessions.
1939. After the Nazis begin to persecute and murder the Jews, Gisela and her family are put on a ship, the St. Louis, and given passage to Cuba, which had agreed to allow them to settle there. But the ship is turned away in Cuba, and Gisela begins a journey that will end at Buchenwald, where she meets a young American medic named Jimmy.
Lynn Austin has given us another well-woven and meticulously researched historical saga. This dual-timeline novel is set both during and after World War II, and slowly entwines the lives of two young women who are connected by a young soldier. We witness the heartbreaking voyage of the St. Louis as the captain tries in vain to reach a safe harbor, and we see the terror of Jews trying to hide in Nazi-occupied territories. We are shown the horrors of World War II and the struggles of survivors to move forward. A Christian crisis of faith is explored, and primitive mental health surgical practices of the 1940s are brought to light. Long Way Home takes us across the sea and back again, into concentration camps and even to small American towns on an unforgettable journey about the evil of war and the love that brings us through it.
My rating is 4.7 stars, rounded up to five on sites with no partial star option.
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.
Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.
Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.
Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.