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A classic, old fashioned love story
on May 14, 2013
Grace Livingston Hill was born in 1865, and she supported herself and her family during most of her adult life by writing over 100 books. In this story, the heroine Hazel loses her way in the wilds of Arizona in the late 1800s and is found by the embodiment of muscular Christianity, David, who takes care of Hazel on the 40 mile journey back to her father who is a mine owner. I loved this section of the book the most as the two young people come to see themselves in new ways by their interactions with each other.
Hazel is a socialite -- rich, beautiful, but with no skills to help her survive in the rugged South West. Both David and Hazel love each other, but sorrowfully part from each other because David is committed to his missionary work and Hazel must return back East with her family.
Slowly, Hazel realizes that she wants to be able to be a worthy partner to David, and the rest of the book covers her long process of self-transformation. She catches a brief glimpse of David when he speaks at a religious convention in NYC. Through some twists and turns of fate (or God's will, as these books are touchingly religious without being sappy), the couple finally meet again. Guess what happens!??
Hill has her prejudices against superficiality, but she does not show that becoming a person with a higher purpose is an easy process. Her books have a quiet humor about them and some glimpses into the past when phones, cars, and the electronic media had not yet intruded in every aspect of our lives. I like those glimpses and Hill's treatment of the Native Americans in the Southwest -- the cliff dwellers get a small, but important walk-on.
Hill is not a writer everyone will like. Her people are divided between those who are decent and those who are selfish. The social classes are pretty well defined. But the writing is lovely and the sentiments conveyed remind us of a time when at least some people considered living the "good" life had more to do with moral choices than with apps.