Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Review: "Her Mother's Hope" by Francine Rivers

The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta's experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta's oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love-but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.

I have been waiting FOREVER for a new full length Francine Rivers novel. We've had several novellas that were really good but they just aren't the same as a thick novel from Rivers. Well the wait was worth it. First off this is an almost 500 page tome plus it's the first book in a series so there's going to be more to come.

Many of Francine's books deals with mother-daughter relationships and this book is no exception. In fact this book is about her own family's story, involving her mother and grandmother's tale. As a daughter, and especially the daughter of an immigrant, I could really relate to the story about a mother wanting her daughter to succeed in their new country. I really liked the historical aspects of the story. I felt swept up in the saga and couldn't stop turning pages. For the most part, the story flowed very well and I liked seeing the different viewpoints from Marta and then Hildie.

I did get annoyed with Marta throughout the book. I understand her background and why she acted the way she did. I know that she wanted the best for kids especially for Hildie. I get that she wanted her to be brave and strong and not be a pushover. However, I felt that the way she went about it was all wrong. Throughout the beginning of the book, I could not stand Marta's father and I really thought that Marta would have learned from that. But throughout most of the book, she would act that exact same way towards her daughter. To me it was like it started from the beginning as soon as she was born. It seemed as if Marta loved Hildie because she was her daughter, but she didn't like her. She just really got on my nerves at the way she treated her and the favoritism she would show to the other kids. The only time we get to see the true nature of Marta's actions is in her letters to Rosie and even then they are only little snippets and not very frequent. If she had just told Hildie this from the beginning it would have made everything a lot easier, but pride stood in the way and ruined what could have been a good mother-daughter relationship.

Overall, I still enjoyed the book. Even with my qualms, it's a really engrossing read and takes the reader from Europe to Canada to the US. The reader sees what it's like to be an immigrant family and the hard work that had to be done to see how a family survives. I was especially glad to see talk about the Japanese internment mentioned because as I've said before it's usually glossed over in Christian fiction. My mother is a big Francine Rivers fan as well and she read the book right before I did. She enjoyed it too despite a few problems but we both agreed how immigrants who come to this country have high hopes for their kids. I cannot wait for the next book and luckily we don't have to wait TOO long this time. I think Francine is a key figure in Christian fiction and this book definitely could make the crossover into general market literary fiction.

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers is published by Tyndale (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

3 comments:

  1. I really thought this book was very good, realistically painting a picture of family struggles. I could certainly identify to a great extend.

    Yes! Marta's attitude towards Hildie (not to mention - to her husband!!!) was incredibly difficult to take. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel to find out how Marta settles out.

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  2. I too enjoyed the book, I just thought it needed to go a bit slower in the beginning especially when Marta met her husband. There was not much charater development there. After half way through it settles down and you can start feeling the story. I cannot wait to read the final installment. Great cliff hanger at the end!

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  3. Another terrific review! I posted a link to it as one of my picks of the best reviews I’ve read.

    I actually struggled with Francine Rivers lately. I found that Her Mother’s Hope didn’t have very much hope at all. After writing my own review (which you can read at www.tracysbooknook.com ) I went out and read about 50 others, and 50 out of 50 loved this book. I guess there’s always one in the crowd who doesn’t fit in – and this time it’s me. :-(

    -Tracy

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