I was born and raised, and still reside, in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. This is a timeless place--as much as things change, they remain the same. The constancy of the mountains is comforting and immovable. Author Joanne Bischof offers a look at life in rural Appalachia in "Be Still My Soul". Lonnie Sawyer and her mother and siblings live under the rule of Lonnie's abusive alcoholic father. Lonnie's refuge is her Aunt Sarah, who offers brief respites from family troubles with readings from the Bible in her home. Lonnie and her mother are both blessed with beautiful singing voices, and at one local musical get-together, her father's pushes her up on stage. When handsome mandolin player Gideon O'Riley walks her home and asks for a kiss, both of their lives are forever changed. At first reluctant, Lonnie agrees to a kiss, but ladies man Gideon wants much more. Ashamed, Lonnie breaks away and runs back to her house before Gideon can have his way. The next day, to her horror, she discovers that her father witnessed the kiss, and he assumes the worst. Lonnie and Gideon are forced by both their fathers into a quick marriage ceremony. Taken away from her family and home, and now married to a resentful man whom she barely knows, Lonnie struggles for emotional survival. Her faith is as indelible as the mountains themselves, but can she endure what awaits? Gideon grew up in a different atmosphere from Lonnie. He was not abused, but he felt trapped by the lifestyle of the generations which had come before him. His music and woodworking skill were his refuge. He was attractive to women, and he went from one to another without a care. Now he was married, and he no longer could drift along through life. Goaded by his friends and emboldened by moonshine liquor, Gideon does have his way with Lonnie, which they both regret. Gideon is not kind to Lonnie, leaving her no choice but to follow him as they walk away from their home area toward a town which may offer work. With no money, and no transportation, they walk and walk, day after day. They find shelter with a kind older couple, Jebediah and Elsie, who have a nice homestead. Having witnessed Gideon's less than kind treatment of Lonnie, Jeb is a stern taskmaster, and Gideon works harder than he ever has in his life. Lonnie discovers that she is expecting a baby, adding to the chains of responsibility which weigh heavily on Gideon. At times, "Be Still My Soul" is tough to read. The poverty, abuse, alcoholism, and lack of education are all part of a continuing cycle. Yet, there is beauty to be found, as faith shines through, and hearts grow together as life goes on. While some never escape from the bleakness of an impoverished existence, others find riches beyond compare in an abiding faith. Gideon and Lonnie endure much, each having to find their own path before they meet as one heart. Highly recommended.
Review Copy Gratis Multnomah Books