Friday, April 2, 2010

The Promise of Morning by Ann Shorey - REVIEWED

Illinois in the 1840’s was filled with frontier towns, and Matthew Craig and his wife Ellie have labored for years to establish a church home for the people of Beldon Grove. When tragic loss visits the Craig home three times in succession Ellie’s heart is left completely bereft of hope. When Matthew’s pastorship comes under fire from a showy stranger claiming to be the son of the town’s founder, Ellie is unable to offer any type of support or help. It isn’t until Matthew leaves town to visit the church elder that the Craig family is forced to take a close look at the true condition of their heart and their family. Survival depends on their willingness to move beyond profound grief and loss and reach for the hope that can only be found in an unshakable faith.

When readers are first introduced to Ellie, it’s impossible not to feel your heart break just a bit. Truly, she has experienced the worst kind of loss and abandonment during her lifetime, and it’s easy to understand why she would feel hopeless. As is common among couples facing loss, sometimes it becomes impossible to comfort one another, and this struggle leaves Ellie and Matthew in a very vulnerable position with strangers come to town and begin to cast doubt in the minds of the townspeople about Matthew’s ability to lead them spiritually. Both Matthew and Ellie make some emotional and rash decisions that lead to a brief but very enlightening time apart. As Matthew rides the circuit of churches, Ellie is left alone to care for her family and take a close look at the way she has allowed her loss to tear down her marriage. Meanwhile, Matthew makes a most unusual discovery that turns out to bring the very promise of hope back into his life.

This is my first time to read Ann Shorey’s work, and I enjoyed The Promise of Morning a great deal. At first, Ellie’s loss seemed a bit dramatic, but I had only to think for a moment to realize that my own grandmother had experienced similar losses. It was not uncommon for families with large numbers of children to suffer loss, but the added stress of Ellie’s other family issues would challenge even the firmest foundations. The effect of Matthew returning to the circuit and the trials that the separation brought to the family proved to be a very effective way to create a clear picture of grace and the way God uses even the broken moments in our life to bring about our good and His glory.

There is really a great deal to think about in this story, and for me, a lot of the deeper issues have lingered even after I read the final pages. I am happy to recommend The Promise of Morning, and I will look forward to more stories from Ann Shorey!


Ann Shorey is the author of The Edge of Light and has published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul.


Mocha with Linda said...

This was a good book. And sadly, death was an all-too-frequent visitor in that time period. When my husband and I visited old cemeteries in the historical states, it was heartbreaking how many graves were of babies/children. And young women, who most likely died in childbirth.

Ann Shorey said...

Thank you so much for reviewing The Promise of Morning. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.