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Beside Still Waters (Alaskan Waters Series) Paperback – May 1, 2017
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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She is more than thrilled and a bit apprehensive when she gets a letter notifying her to come to an interview with the grandmother who is attempting to fill the position. Jennie has lost her mother and now is faced with a heart condition that keeps her confined to bed and without the ability to attend school. It is the perfect job and a chance to leave all her losses behind her and instead head west from Boston to Alaska. She makes a wonderful impression on Mrs. Henderson who believes Violet is just what her granddaughter needs and offers to full fund her expenses to travel and also to prepare for the wildness life she is about to face. Brutally cold winters and a lot of uncertainty. Now it will take her a couple of weeks to travel first by train, then by steamship and then train again to get to Whitehorse Alaska. She meets an unlikely prospect in John Barston, a steamship captain bound for Whitehorse to prepare his own ship for travel after the winter storage and gives Violet an informative tour along the way.
They both learn a lot about not only the river they travel upon but also the railroad line which John is employed with as well. They seem to be well-suited for one another, but Violet soon realizes that she can't get involved with a man who will be working aboard a steamship while she remains employed as the Henderson teacher and caregiver. She has put her faith on the back burner due to the many losses she has had to face along the way, and wonders how God could be so cruel to leave her alone for so long and now with no family to speak of. It will be a true test of her faith if she can find it again and perhaps in the process will learn why she has had to face such adversities in someone so young. Then again perhaps God has never left and instead has been guiding her all the way.
I received Beside Still Waters by AnnaLee Conti compliments of Ambassador International Publishers. This is such an exceptional novel because it is richly filled with so much historical information from the gold miners who sought their own future in the Alaskan wilderness and how the railroad lines were laid at the cost of so many lives. Simply picking up the pieces of the life she has left, it shows great courage to reach out for an unknown future like Violet does. Some might frown on how quickly she finds love, but in reality, during those rough times, people didn't take long periods to court when the adverse conditions didn't allow for it. Sometimes you simply know the right person for you is the first person you meet along the path God has created for your future. I easily give this a 5 out of 5 stars and find myself desperately wanting to read the first two novels in this series!
And heartaches she has a plenty. Beside Still Waters is at times honestly heartwrenching, and I confess that I was tempted to put it in the freezer a couple of times a la Joey on Friends. The sheer amount of grief that Violet has to endure hangs heavy over the reader too – a testament to the writer’s ability to connect us to this main character. From the beginning, nothing at all turned out the way I predicted as I read this tender story. And yet… especially in light of the other books in this series… it all turned out exactly as it was supposed to. And as Violet begins to understand more clearly how God is near to the brokenhearted, how He leads us beside still waters, we too as readers are reminded of His gentle hand in our own lives.
Bottom Line: Beside Still Waters reminds me in a lot of ways of Janette Oke’s Canadian West series, and Violet grew into a friend just like Oke’s Elizabeth did. I cheered for her. I cried for her. I rejoiced with her. (I came really close to praying for her too LOL.) While some of the history suffers from a bit of info dumping, it has nevertheless piqued my interest in learning more about the Alaskan frontier during this time period. Reading Beside Still Waters has also whet my appetite for the rest of the series, and i plan to go back and read them as I have time. (You can absolutely read this one as a stand-alone, but after I read this one and then read the blurbs for the first two books I very much wanted to go back and see the whole series in context.)
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
"I received this book from the publisher for free. All opinions are my own."