Bethany ISBN 9780764219061
Adult Rating: 5
French midwife Julianne Chevalier is wrongly imprisoned and branded for murder in Mark of the King. While languishing in prison, Julianne hears reports of potential for exile with the John Law Company who is trying to populate Louisiana with French citizens. Julianne joins the company, seizing not only the opportunity for freedom, but also the chance to find her brother who moved to Louisiana four years earlier. However, she doesn’t realize the price for her freedom is forced marriage and enforced consummation of the marriage. Upon arrival in Louisiana, a flicker of hope for the future ignites in Julianne, only to be snuffed out by multiple tragedies. Some days it seems God’s grace and peace will elude her forever.
Jocelyn Green’s writing well earns its Christy nomination. She masterfully crafts a novel around several true historical events. Staying faithful to history, Green’s book is far from an idealized account of history and includes sometimes gritty and perhaps even gruesome details, though she is not gratuitous in the presentation. The cast of characters is varied, but the main characters grow into their new lives as they accept the past, put it in God’s hands, and attempt to accept His grace as they move into the future. Of course, the opposite is true of the antagonists, who do all they can to thwart good.
The author includes some superb plot twists in a compelling story. The dialogue feels natural and plentiful. The lovely descriptions and Green’s lyrical writing help breathe life into this story of romance and intrigue. The very difficult nature of some of the historical events presented–including the enforced (and observed) sex of the newly married couples, murder, and attempted rape–makes this a book better suited for more mature readers. The theme is best summarized by the following passage: “God owes you nothing, and yet He made you His daughter. You are a child of the King; it is His image you bear. King Louis marked you with judgment, but the King of Kings covers you with grace.” (p. 382)
Kristina Wolcott, CLJ