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Caroline Fletcher was twelve years old on the day in 1853 when she realized just how different she was from everyone else. She had grown up feeling like the slaves were part of her family. She loved her "mammy," Tessie, and spent her days playing with Tessie's son, Grady, who was like a little brother to Caroline. But when her father sells Grady, Caroline realizes her views on slavery are not the same as those shared by the rest of Virginia. The time she spends in Philadelphia with relatives after the death of her mother only cements her view that slavery is a moral wrong that must be ended. But returning to Richmond, she realizes that will be a lot harder than she imagined. Against her own will, Caroline finds herself falling in love with Charles St. John, the son of a wealthy Richmond businessman and a defender of slavery. Caroline and Charles become engaged to be married, but the Civil War breaks out just three months before their wedding was to take place. Charles goes off to fight for the Confederacy, even though Caroline begs him not to. When her father leaves as well, Caroline finds herself alone in Richmond and torn in two. She struggles with her conflicting loyalties to her home and family, and to the cause she so strongly believes in.

This was an excellent historical novel. Caroline was a wonderful and very human character who came alive through her first-person narrative. Her struggles felt very real to me. The author brought to life Virginia just before and during the Civil War very well. Although this book was very long, I never lost interest in it. My one complaint is that the final thirty pages were told in a third-person point of view. I would have liked the whole book to be narrated by Caroline; it felt odd after four hundred pages for the viewpoint to change. However, it doesn't really take away from the book that much; overall, I still loved it. I highly recommend this novel to adults and older teens who enjoy historical fiction about the Civil War.
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on June 14, 2003
I was very impressed with the entire story!
I thought the characters were fantastic. The spiritual insight given to Eli, particularly, was deep and inspiring. It shows Lynn Austin's understanding of how God works in and through all circumstances, both good and bad.
Although it is a work of fiction, it seemed as if it could well have been a true story. I was even challenged in my own trust in God as I read about Caroline's courage to follow her convictions no matter the cost and surrendering 'Thy will be done' to God, as well as the slaves' deep love for God and their faith in His sovereignty and love for them in spite of very unjust suffering. (Not to mention that I enjoyed the history lesson of the Civil War.)
I thought it was a wonderful book of loyalty, courage, selflessness and forgivenss in a world of injustice, pride, prejudice and bitterness. I really enjoyed this book - so much so that I just purchased another from the same author.
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on October 29, 2004
I can't even remember the last book that brought tears to my eyes, but this book didn't just make me misty-eyed...it made me weep! It is so full of beauty, truth, and wisdom. I can't imagine anyone, young or old, male or female, whatever religious beliefs or background, not loving this inspiring tale. Austin weaves incredibly real characters together with history, creating a story that has meaning even in our modern, every day life. A true "must read!"
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on September 17, 2004
Lynn Austin is one of the most amazing authors I have ever read. She has the power to captivate you while you read the story and to captivate you when you're finished. The characters and plot stay alive in your mind as you consider the things you learned and experienced.

I hate movies on the Civil War, but books like Killer Angels and this one introduce you to real people and intimate situations that remind you of this: If it happens to one, it happens to all. The Civil War is part of American history, and therefore part of my history.

Highly recommended.
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on June 23, 2004
Caroline Fletcher was brought up in a family and a state that believed slavery was a biblically-tolerant designation. In her world, the slaves were more like members of her family.
She loved them unconditionally and received that same type of love in return. In some instances, they were more like kin to her than her own parents.
Caroline's world was shattered, however, when one morning her best friend, the son of her mammy, was dragged away kicking and screaming to the slave auction as his mother and the others watched in helpless abandon.
Following this horrible experience, Caroline was forced to re-examine everything she had previously taken for granted. What she saw, especially upon visiting "slave row" on her aunt and uncle's estate, was beyond her imagining.
Unable to ignore what she now viewed as a deplorable existence, Caroline found herself becoming a firm believer of the abolitionist movement. Through years of personal turmoil and a raging war between the states, she was able to always keep hold of her faith and let God guide her way thanks to the wise words of her good friend and confidante, Eli...It's not our will be done, it's Thy will be done.
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on December 1, 2004
I really enjoy Christian fiction books and I always have a hard time choosing the right one. For some reason this book really stood out at the book store and I bought it without realizing what the book was fully about. It is such a strong book about going after what you truly believe in and standing up for what is right! After I finished it I wanted to read more and more about Caroline and I also found myself researching more about the Civil War. It is a hard book to put down! One of my good friends borrowed it & fell in love with it immediately! :0)
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on November 10, 2011
There are reviews that tell what this novel is about, so I won't. I want to comment on the Author. I went to her web-site to see if she was around 80 years old; it seems that it would take a lifetime to learn all that she knows of history. Her grasp of the historical times that she wrote this book about is amazing. (She is young.) I don't know how she finds time to write as she must study constantly to learn about the customs, morals, and the practices of the time around the Civil War. She captures not just these details, but the emotional climate of the time as well. I was completely drawn into this true to the times story. If I could have read this when I was in High School, I would have loved History. This is a great book for all ages, and would make a great Christmas gift for your loved ones. I am hooked, so now I have to read her other books.
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on September 1, 2013
The author uses the War Between the States and story to illustrate God's almighty power in our lives. The perspectives of the slaves, southern plantation and business owners, young, old, men and women were superbly woven. One cannot read this book without being humbled. If you long to know Jesus better and are studying His word in the Bible, then you will find the wisdom in this book will complement your growing understanding of what He is like.
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on February 14, 2011
I have a hard time getting into Christian novels. I do not know what it is, but there just seems to be a quality in writing and story from secular novels. I received Candle in the Darkness free on my Kindle, so I decided to give it a shot. I am SO glad that I did! This story had me mesmerized from beginning to end. Caroline is a character that I think any person can see themselves in, and real life struggles that we can all relate to. We may not be dealing with the issue of slavery, but we are constantly faced with decisions of what God's will for our lives is, and whether we would risk life and reputation to do His will. I did not think that the book was overly "preachy" which tends to come with some Christian novels. Most of the Biblical conversations comes from one of Caroline's slaves, Eli. He is a very lovable character and his talks about Christ and the Bible are not long winded or too cheesy. I actually was very touched and humbled by many of his talks.

This book has it all action, romance, comedy, inner battles between right and wrong, forgiveness, and more. For someone looking for a Christian historical novel that will keep you up late at night reading: this is a great one! I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the series. I think I may read a different book before I dive into number 2 though...I want to savor the series:) When I find a good series, I try to make it last as long as I can. I am hoping that books 2 and 3 do not disappoint!
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on May 26, 2014
I would have to say that this book was somewhat of a disappointment to me. While the historical story-line was generally entertaining, the plot was rather slow in some places...almost boring. It all seemed to be leading to some major make-everything-better ending, but I'll admit that even that was very disappointing. I was expecting to reach this awe-inspiring conclusion to a perhaps slightly dragged-out conflict, but was left dissatisfied. I will say though, that there were many enjoyable parts to the story that brought refreshing reprieves from the monotony (like the main couple's first meetings and relationship). I would not say that the book was all bad - it just wasn't nearly as good as I was expecting. I believe that most young people who are just starting to become interested in historical fiction would probably find this novel enjoyable. (I have read lots and lots of the kind and am perhaps a bit spoiled when it comes to the genre.)
One other thing worth noting, and commending the author for, is the fact that it's written from the point of view of southerners during the Civil War. Now that was a hard place to be at that time, and I can only imagine that it was a very hard concept to write about as a Christian author, but Miss Austin does well with the historical accuracy of the Confederate thinking, and she truly makes the reader think. It was sometimes difficult to read about slavery from the viewpoint of those who condone it, but I suppose one can never really understand another's ideas if they don't step into their shoes and "walk around in them".
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