Book Review

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

This past month, I have been able to do a bit more reading “for fun.” Not that all reading isn’t’ fun, it’s just different when I don’t have to have a review posted at a particular time or don’t have to prioritize one stack of books over another. Lynn Austin is an author that I hear wonderful things about and has been recommended to me for some time now and I was happy to finally try reading one of her many novels.

**This is a novel I borrowed from the library. I am not being compensated for this review**

I was perfectly content with my life–that is, until the pages of my story were ripped out before I had a chance to live happily ever after.

Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But the happily-ever-after life she’s planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real one. To top it off, Alice loses her beloved library job because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books. When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery–and especially romance–may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

“Nobody can read too much. That’s like saying someone breathes too much.”

-Alice Ripley, Wonderland Creek

Characters: I was surprised how long it took me to really start to like Allie in this novel. In many ways, she has one of the characteristics I love to find in heroines: a love of reading. At the beginning of the book however, I found myself annoyed with her. She was too flighty and too self-absorbed. As one would expect though, the more she improved, the more I liked her. There were some other characters in this story I thought were fantastic! But you will have to pick this one up to discover the colorful cast.

Storyline: The story of this book really drew me in. Alice goes from living a calm life in a predictable town to moving to something completely unfamiliar in the backwoods of Kentucky where her life becomes something that she’s only ever read about. The plot really opens this book up for a bit of mystery and suspense which I enjoyed.

My Thoughts:  Overall, I did enjoy this book. It took me awhile to really get drawn into it because to be honest, I didn’t really like Alice in the beginning. But once we got to know some of the other main characters a bit more and other things started to happen, I started to enjoy the book quite a bit more.

About the Author:
For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother (age 98), and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Eight of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

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