|All the Lynn Austin books in our house. (Minus a Dutch version of Hidden Places and another copy of Candlelight in the Darkness, which I've currently lent to twin friends at Church. Woe if they don't love it.)|
I... I... I just* finished reading Hidden Places. (For the fifth time or something.) It was even more amazing than I had recalled. I cried and cried over Betty and Lydia, and my heart broke for Luke and Gabriel-when-he-was-a-boy. I turned over the pages just like it was the first time I was reading it; I was riveted and just in awe. I spent the whole morning curled in my bed trying to hide my face in the folds of the cushions and my pullover, so no one entering in my room would see all the melodrama I was experiencing, and when I finished it, I felt like a terrible writer, (which admittedly is the only downside about this book.)
*I wrote the first sentence of this post in the morning, but the rest in the evening. I felt a tad overwhelmed after finishing Hidden Places, to be honest, and wasn't capable of much good-post-writing. :-) It took me ages to write my Goodreads review, but I just about managed that.
Basically, Hidden Places is an amazing book, and Lynn Austin is an AMAZING writer. Message of April 30th, 2016. Lynn Austin's writing never ceases to surprise and amaze me. Almost every one of her books make me read and read for hours in one go, and almost all her books have a big personal value to me.
I suppose we could go way back to when I was about nine or ten or eleven, when my mum read them. She got most of them from her sister, my aunt, who gave them to her for her birthdays or she borrowed them from friends. Now and then a thick, beautiful-covered book would sit on her bedside table, next to her blue pot of Nivea cream and her lamp, and she would tell me it was 'really good' and that 'one day I could read them.' Well, really, I loved them already before I read them. It's like me with Pride and Prejudice 1995 - I loved that before I watched it; I loved it just by looking at the covers and rereading the blurb at the back. Especially the cover of Until we Reach Home, with the three girls looking at the Statue of Liberty in New York really captured my imagination. I looked at the pretty dresses of the four ladies on the cover of A Woman's Place and chose which one was the prettiest. I remember my mum 'fangirling' over them with some of her friends who read them as well, and how the Lynn Austin books kind of travelled around the circle of friends. Oh, and I remember asking several times if I could read them, and Mum said, 'Not quite yet.' (Which, now, I do understand, because it's not really a book for kids of pre-teens, but I did have to wait for these.)
And then I read my first Lynn Austin book, when I was twelve. It was While We're Far Apart, and I loved it. I remember telling Mama, "Lynn Austin's my favourite author too." And she was like, "You've only read one!" Turns out that I didn't really change my mind, ever, because she still is one of my favourite authors ever. I have only ever read one book of hers that I wasn't wildly enthusiastic about.
You know, a lot of contemporary books nowadays are kind of fluffy and... shallow. This includes about 90% of Christian Fiction, sadly enough. But Lynn Austin doesn't do fluffy - she goes to the deep, important, sometimes-gritty, sad, interestingly passionate stuff. Her characters are alive with colours, and her books all create this inner world in my brain which I always want to return to. Her books really are WORLDS. That's how I think about them, and I don't think that about a lot of books, really. There are many books I love as books, but I don't love Lynn Austin's books as books - I love them as... I don't know... whole scopes, whole scents, whole worlds.
Hidden Places and Eve's Daughters are my two favourite of her novels. Both of them kind of tear my heart to pieces - it's ridiculous and terribly wicked of Lynn Austin to do this to me, but oh well, I shouldn't have reread them in the first place, should I? The story of Aunt Batty, with her beautiful and flighty sister Lydia, and her lover, the darling Walter who is dying but who she loves so much she doesn't care. And then the story of Emma and Grace, and the kind-hearted pastor, Patrick O'Duggan. And then we have the stories of Alice Grace Ripley and Violet Rose Hayes, mysterious and romantic mixed with excellent pinches humour. I won't even START talking about The Refiner's Fire Series, because it'll take hours - I love that trilogy a ridiculous amount.
And do you know what else is good about her novels? They are always better when rereading them. I remember loving them on my first re-reads, like a world was opening, and like I just met a good friend. But now when I reread them it's like reuniting with a good friend - and reuniting is better than meeting.
This following month, I'm going to reread a lot of Lynn Austin books. Go through the old favourites, and all that jazz. Feel free to join me on my Lynn Austin marathon, and converse about her books in the comment section anytime! Because they're fun to talk about ammirite?
If Lynn Austin ever ends up reading this (firstly, I'm HONOURED, thank you for reading!) - I would like to thank her for her marvellous stories. I'm not like Matthew Wyatt, who had a terribly depressive life and needed an 'escape' through books - I have a happy family, and good siblings and parents who strongly approve of fictional books (ha!) - but your books have simply given me such inspiration for my own writing, such joy, and such a good view of things. Also, they have given me a nickname - Alice Grace Ripley - and the title for my blog! So thank you. :-)
PS. I hope you don't mind that I stole the name Wonderland Creek for my blog name, by the way. If you do I will change it, as a token of gratitude.