Saturday, 30 April 2016

Lynn Austin and her novels.

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.

43 comments:

  1. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . books are AMAZING. Am I not right?

    Makes me think of Emily Dickinson: "There is no frigate like a book / To take us lands away . . ."

    I'm so happy you like these so much!! I know how you feel--some authors just DO THINGS like that to you. C.S. Lewis is one of those for me, and so is Willa Cather, and so is G.K. Chesterton. You want to talk about how much you love them, and you try--but you can never REALLY do it because you love them TOO MUCH.

    (And I totally feel you about when a book is so good it makes you think you're a bad writer. You're like, "I could never write like that." BLURRRGGGGHHHHHHHH. But we must persevere, no? ;-) )

    I really liked seeing the photo of all your Lynn Austin books. Plus your sweater and leggings and your feet. (I'm assuming they're your feet anyhow. Perhaps I'm wrong . . . ?) But yeah. Window into your world, and all that. :-)

    I feel like I'm not making any sense right now. It's finals week and I'm getting ready to graduate and I'm EXHAUSTED. Bear with me, y'all. :-)

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    1. Yes, I know - we must persevere. :-)

      Yes, that's me. And they're not leggings, they're trousers/pants. And it's not a sweater, it's a jumper, HAHA. :-D

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    2. Nope. Trousers are made out of canvas or denim, and they're much looser. Those really are leggings.

      ;-)

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    3. They're NOT leggings!! I know what I wear. :-D
      (You are kiiind of right though. They are Jeggings. Which is a cross between jeans and leggins. BUT they feel and look like trousers SO THERE.)

      (We sound like two kids bickering, haha. :-D)

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    4. Jeggings, huh? You mean those stretchy-jeans-that-aren't-really-jeans? I've seen one of my pals wearing them, but he said he bought them on a trip to Germany, so yeah.

      But actually, I should also point out that here in the U.S., NOBODY wears "trousers," pretty much. It's not a word that people actually use. They just say "pants" or "chinos" or "jeans" or "leggings" or whatever. But not trousers.

      Question: How popular are actual jeans (NOT skinny jeans or Jeggings) in Europe? Here, you see them all the time--and they're pretty much all I wear in the winter--but I didn't know how common they are where you live.

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    5. Yes, those stretchy-jeans-that-aren't-really-jeans. That's a good way to describe them, haha. :-D

      I know. But 'pants' in British means UNDERPANTS. :-P We say trousers. (I'm getting used to 'pants', though, what with all my American friends. :-D)

      No, 'actual' jeans aren't that popular around here - at least not for teenage girls! :-) However loads of 'skinny-ish' jeans are real jeans and not fake denim, sooo, yes. :-)

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    6. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT. That's just WEIRD.

      See, we always say "pants" to mean, well, "pants." The other stuff is UNDERWEAR, not UNDERPANTS.

      I couldn't survive without my jeans--especially not in the wintertime. I wear them every day, and they're super warm and comfy.

      Aren't all these "daily customs" things crazy? It's like, we speak the same language, UNTIL we start talking about clothes and food and stuff and then it's like wait, hold up, we aren't speaking the same language AT ALL. When you come to visit Emma, you'll discover a lot more crazy things about life in America--I promise :-)

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  2. Well I've just bought a few more, we only have Wonderland Creek (which I've claimed as mine although it sits on mums shelves with her author friends books as I have no space on my shelves). I've bought All Things New and While We're Far Apart... oh they're so good! Thank YOU and Emma Jane for getting me into this author!

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    1. All Things New is my least favourite of her books, but I'm glad you like it! While We're Far Apart is swell. :-)

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    2. :-D I meant oh they're swell like the covers.. :P they're still coming from America

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  3. Goodness, Naomi, you keep making me want to read more Lynn Austin!
    I have to admit that I haven't LOVED any of her books yet (I know it pains you to hear that...and so it pains me to say so!) but I do like them and want to try more. :) I guess I just haven't read that one that "clicks" with me yet.
    Your collection is so lovely, though! I love that you and your mum share a love of those books. My mom frequently reads the books from my bookshelf and it's fun because I get to recommend books to her. ;) And then we get to talk about them. :D

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    1. No it doesn't pain me to hear that, dear... I mean, if it's not your thing then... *shrugs*... so be it. Have you tried Hidden Places yet, though? You MIGHT like that one. (Eva likes 'While We're Far Apart' best. You just have to find your favourite. :-D)
      Yes, my mum and I are Lynn Austin lovers. :-) She doesn't enjoy many of my books, though - classics are not Her Thing. :-)

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  4. I keep meaning to read more of Lynn Austin's books, since you love them so much and we have similar book tastes. Now I should go buy all of them!

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    1. Start with Hidden Places and Eve's Daughters. :-) I hope you love them as much as me!

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  5. Lynn Austin sounds amazing! I have not read any of her books, but I shall have to see if that can be remedied. I will look at the library this week, as we do not own any. If the library doesn't have any--well, I guess we'll see. I would love to read them!

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    1. The library MUST have at least one of her books. Even the Belgian library had two, so American libraries really MUST. :-D

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    2. Our library had several! I got A Proper Pursuit, The Candles in the Darkness, Until We Reach Home, and A Woman's Place. Which should I read first? (They didn't have Hidden Places.)

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    3. I would say Candles in the Darkness if the library had the two next books. It depends what you feel like! A Proper Pursuit is slightly funnier, and Until We Reach Home has some more serious issues. ( A Woman's Place is good too but I would recommend the others first. :-D)

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  6. I am definitely going to try and get my hands on a Lynn Austin book this summer, and your Goodreads review has me wanting it to be Hidden Places :)

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    1. Yes, try Hidden Places. And then Eve's Daughters, and then all the rest. :-)

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  7. Ooooh,I am definitely intrigued now by your gushing over these books!!! They sound awesome! I now have an urge to find one and see if it's as good as you say! And I found the first book in the 'Refiner's Fire' series for FREE on kindle, so I will begin reading it soon! I've been a quiet follower of your blog for a while now (I found it through Emma's) and I just want to say that I really love everything you post about! I am a huge historical fiction fan, and love reading about other people's love for historical fiction. Your reviews of books are super good, and I actually went and read 'Daddy-Long-Legs' because you made me so interested in it!(And it was just as good as you said!) And you also might of kind of got me into period drama stuff, as I have a new interest and urge to watch a LOT of the movies you keep talking about! Great blog and keep up the good work!
    Hannah M.

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    1. Hannah M, thank you so much for commenting! I like quiet follwers an awful lt. :-)
      I KNOW! The first Refiner's Fire book is for FREE. Which actually terrible, because you'll want to buy the two next ones afterwards. (The second one is the best.)
      Daddy-Long-Legs is good, right? ;-)

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    2. Well, I started it today, and haven't been able to put it down!!! I understand now why these books are so gush-worthy! Because they are truly amazing! But that is the problem, I now want the next two, even though I haven't even finished the first one! :D
      Hannah M.
      (Oh yes, Daddy-Long-Legs was so good! It's got a wholesome old-timey feel to it and is a really good ((and funny!)) read!)

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  8. I've been wanting to read (even ONE of) Lynn Austins books for sooo long, but we don't have them here in Finland... :/

    ~Felicity King

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    1. Oh, you live in Finland! :-) I know some Finnish people at Church. (Okay, random, Naomi. :-P)
      I'm sure you could order them on Amazon, if nothing works... :-P (And book #1 of the Refiner's Fire Series is free on kindle, if you have a kindle!)

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    2. I'm afraid I don't have kindle, I am such an old-fashioned (I'd like to say spinster, but I'd be lying if I would) girl, see. But I hope I'll come across her books some day... (We have like a TON of second hand shops here, and I've found many of my favourite books in english, so the possibilities are good.)
      Oh, you have Finns at your church? Well that's no surprise ;D They're EVERYWHERE.

      ~Felicity

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  9. Hm.... I have never read any Lynn Austin. My mom might have though. I really don't know. I will take a look at them though. I often gravitate towards older fiction books (as in around 100+ year old books). I can get quite a few of them for free on Kindle, and I generally like the writing style of the past better than modern English. :)

    It is rather sad reading a well written book it can make you despair at ever being able to write like that. I am no author, but I can recognize the same phenomena when I hear a piece of music that I find particularly beautiful. It makes me wonder if I could ever write a piece of music as moving.

    Sarah
    sewcharacteristicallyyou.weebly.com

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    1. Same, many modern books annoy me. But NOT Lynn Austin. :-D
      I know, but it's good to have really high standards of music/books/etc. I think, because it makes us aim for higher!

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  10. AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH.

    I loved reading this so much! It reminded me all over again of how amazing it was when we first discovered Lynn Austin was out mutual favorite author. ;-) It also reminded me of how much I REALLY REALLY love all these books. Just -- they mean so much to me, I can't even explain. I owe this woman so much. ;-P

    I want to join you reading them all over again! I think I'm going to start with Candle in the Darkness, I think, because that was what started it all.

    Basically I REALLY enjoyed reading this. And I love your pictures too! (Hey, I didn't know you had the new copy of Fire by Night! I have the old cover. I can't decided whether I like the old cover or the new one better.)

    ~Violet <3

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    1. I KNOW. And I LOOVE that we both love her books THE SAME. Makes it so much fun. :-)

      I'm reading Candlelight in Darkness after 'June Darling' and 'Though Water's Roar.' I'm preparing myself for the awesome. Yes, I have the new covers of both 'Candlelight' and 'Fire by Night'; Mama's copies have the old covers. (And we have two exact same copies of book #3.)

      I like the old covers better, because that's how I have the characters envisioned. :-D

      ~ Naomi

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  11. I LOVE Lynn Austin's writing!! I read her "Candle in the Darkness" a few months ago and read half of it in one night. I identified with Caroline in almost every part of her personality. So many times thru the book I wanted to cry because I had never heard of any girl so like ME. Plus, I love the American Civil War era. And I appreciated Lynn Austin's frequent use of the Bible instead of man's reasoning or words. I highlighted practically everything Eli ever said. I want to read more Lynn Austin, but I got Candle in the Darkness free on kindle. I need to look up more of her books. --Libby

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    1. SAME. And Eli - Eli is amazing - gah, I just want to highlight everything he says, too. :-D

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  12. I'd like to try Hidden Places sometime. It looks like A Good Book :)

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  13. I am so excited to start reading some of her books!

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  14. That's so sweet that your Mum recommended them to you. :) My Mum doesn't read novels now, simply because she doesn't have time, so I don't have the chance to talk to her about books as much. She tends to forget quite a bit about them (which is fair, since it's probably more than 10 years since she's read it ;)).

    My library doesn't have Hidden Places! Nor do my cousins (who lend me Lark Rise) so I don't know where I can get it. >:/ My library has a wide selection of her works though... this is what they have:
    On This Foundation (this is currently in use), Candle in the Darkness (ditto), Keepers of the Covenant, Pilgrimage, Return to Me, All Things New, Wonderland Creek, While We're Far Apart, Through Waters Roar, Until We Reach Home, A Proper Pursuit, A Woman's Place, Gods and Kings and Faith of My Fathers. It's quite a lot, but I'm disappointed they don't have your two favourites. :( Which, out of these, would you recommend to me the most? I'm hoping I can convince my Mum to let me read at least one of her works. :D *fingers crossed*

    ~Miss Meg

    P.S. I would've commented earlier, but my computer is playing up!

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    1. I would say Candle in the Darkness, but because your library doesn't have the two sequels, I'd recommend... I don't know. Wonderland Creek, While We're Far Apart, Through Waters Roar, Until We Reach Home, A Proper Pursuit and A Woman's Place are all GOOD. Wonderland Creek, A Proper Pursuit, While We're Far Apart and Through Waters Roar are the least 'adult-ish', though. Maybe you could start with one of those? :-) (Start with Wonderland Creek! It has a few kisses, though. If you're uncomfortable with that, try one of the other two. :-P The first one MY mum let me read was While We're Far Apart. So you could start with THAT. :-)

      (I don't know. Ha.)

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    2. Haha. Well thanks, that really helps. ;P

      I'll probably choose Wonderland creek or While We're Far Apart... it may not be for awhile, though. I will definitely let you know when I do. :)

      ~Miss Meg

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    3. Wonderland Creek is so good!

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  15. Hi Naomi,
    Thank you so much for all your kind words about my novels. Someone pointed out your blog to me and said "You HAVE to read it" and I'm glad I did. I'm just starting to wrote my newest book and I needed the boost of encouragement that your words gave me. Thank you! I hope you'll continue to enjoy my books--and I hope you continue to write! You are already an excellent writer with a wonderful, unique voice. I see great success in your future if that's the path God leads you down. Blessings! Lynn

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    1. If this is REALLY you, Lynn (you know, I can't be 100% certain because it's Anonymous), THANK YOU for commenting!! I love your books enormously, if you hadn't figured that out yet! ;-) Thank you so so much for your books - I'm actually reading the Refiners Fire Series again and... you're killing me with those characters. :-)

      Thank you SO much for your words on my writing - that means so much, especially coming from you. :-)

      God bless you too -
      Love, Naomi

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  16. I can obviously tell from this post that you think these books are good but do you recommend them for me?

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    1. Of course I do! Why would't I. :-P Start with Hidden Places!
      (I don't know how old you are - but just a little disclaimer, these books are targeted to adults/teens.)

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