Customer Reviews for

All Things New

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Lynn Austin is at the top of my favorite authors!   I couldn¿t w

Lynn Austin is at the top of my favorite authors!   I couldn’t wait to read this book!
The Civil War is over and the lives of the wealthy northerners and their slaves are changed forever.  Those from the North don’t want to accept it and the slaves don’t know how to acc...
Lynn Austin is at the top of my favorite authors!   I couldn’t wait to read this book!
The Civil War is over and the lives of the wealthy northerners and their slaves are changed forever.  Those from the North don’t want to accept it and the slaves don’t know how to accept it.  
The Weatherly family returns to what is left of their once grand home in Virginia.  Eugenia, the matriarch of the family and widowed by the war, plans to continue life as before.  She purposes, through sheer strength and determination, to rebuild the life they once had.  She has lost one son in the war and looks to her surviving son to return and take his father’s place.  Daniel comes home angry and shattered by his experiences in the war.  He too cannot accept the defeat and seeks revenge on anyone associated with that loss. He could care less about leading the family. 
Her 16 year old daughter, Olivia, is spoiled and selfish and is more than happy to comply with her mother’s plans.  Twenty-two year old Josephine realizes that their focus must be on surviving the reality of their life now, not reconstructing the past.  Although practical in her outlook, she is angry with God for not rewarding her “goodness” and answering her prayers during the war.   She has turned away from Him.  
The only slaves that remain on their plantation are Lizze and Otis and their 3 children.  They have no clue how to handle their new found freedom and realize they have no place to go.  For the first time, Josephine begins to see them as flesh and blood people with feelings and attempts to treat them as equals.  This only enrages her mother more. 
Josephine and her family face hardships they have never experienced: lack of food, clothing, and money.  She begins to understand that this a small taste of the lives their slaves have always lived.   The only difference in Lizze and Otis’s life is that they know their children will never be sold or face mistreatment as they did.   
I was astonished at this historical novel.  Ms. Austin was a genius not only in how she presented the historical facts about the Post Civil War era, but also in capturing the personal details and emotions that so many different groups of people faced in its aftermath.  I never dreamed of what these people actually dealt with.
In many ways the wealthy families coming back were almost as poor as the slaves, but their situations were made worse because they had no skills or knowledge to care for their daily needs and homes.  A culture shock confronted them as they were stripped of their money and lavish, snobbish lifestyles.  They were broken people with only their self-righteous pride left.
The soldiers left as strong, courageous young men only to return shattered emotionally, mentally and some physically.  Handicapped individuals then did not have all the medical help and devices to make life easier.  Many wished they had died rather than live as a cripple.  Some carried the guilt of being alive because their friends died. 
Then there were the slaves who finally had freedom but had no means or knowledge to embrace it.   Their fear of their master’s abuse was replaced with fear being killed by angry ex-slave owners.  If they went away,  they had no means to support themselves nor any place to go.  In staying they are treated with the same disrespect and left with the workload of a household of slaves.  This was a very confusing time for them too.
Also there were the southerners who fought for the slave’s freedom and wanted to help them in making a new life.  They found themselves in danger and hated by the bitter white men of the north for whom they blamed for their losses.  On the other hand the slaves feared trusting them because they were white. 
As if 
If all this wasn’t remarkable enough, Ms. Austin includes one more very important aspect.  In a crisis God is always at work whether we realize it or not.  We are either drawn closer to Him or turn away.  Not only was I a part of the character’s thoughts and emotions, but she also enabled me to experience their spiritual journey in such a tumultuous time. 
I will never look at this era the same again.   She brought history and the characters alive!  This book is a masterpiece you WILL want to read!
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

posted by Moonpie72 on January 9, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

I'm a huge fan of Lynn Austin - and normally a book by her autom

I'm a huge fan of Lynn Austin - and normally a book by her automatically makes my favorites list. This one should get 3 1/2 stars. I just didn't connect as much with the characters with this one.

Usually I feel immersed into the setting and feel like I'm almost part of...
I'm a huge fan of Lynn Austin - and normally a book by her automatically makes my favorites list. This one should get 3 1/2 stars. I just didn't connect as much with the characters with this one.

Usually I feel immersed into the setting and feel like I'm almost part of the story. This time I felt at a distance from what was happening.

That doesn't mean this is a bad book. It has a touching story revealing the struggles of the South after the Civil War. Sometimes it was difficult to read what the people thought of their ex-slaves and how they were treated.

I want to thank Bethany House for providing my copy. It did not influence my review.

posted by ButterflyBlessingsBlog on January 9, 2013

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  • Posted January 9, 2013

    Lynn Austin is at the top of my favorite authors!   I couldn¿t w

    Lynn Austin is at the top of my favorite authors!   I couldn’t wait to read this book!
    The Civil War is over and the lives of the wealthy northerners and their slaves are changed forever.  Those from the North don’t want to accept it and the slaves don’t know how to accept it.  
    The Weatherly family returns to what is left of their once grand home in Virginia.  Eugenia, the matriarch of the family and widowed by the war, plans to continue life as before.  She purposes, through sheer strength and determination, to rebuild the life they once had.  She has lost one son in the war and looks to her surviving son to return and take his father’s place.  Daniel comes home angry and shattered by his experiences in the war.  He too cannot accept the defeat and seeks revenge on anyone associated with that loss. He could care less about leading the family. 
    Her 16 year old daughter, Olivia, is spoiled and selfish and is more than happy to comply with her mother’s plans.  Twenty-two year old Josephine realizes that their focus must be on surviving the reality of their life now, not reconstructing the past.  Although practical in her outlook, she is angry with God for not rewarding her “goodness” and answering her prayers during the war.   She has turned away from Him.  
    The only slaves that remain on their plantation are Lizze and Otis and their 3 children.  They have no clue how to handle their new found freedom and realize they have no place to go.  For the first time, Josephine begins to see them as flesh and blood people with feelings and attempts to treat them as equals.  This only enrages her mother more. 
    Josephine and her family face hardships they have never experienced: lack of food, clothing, and money.  She begins to understand that this a small taste of the lives their slaves have always lived.   The only difference in Lizze and Otis’s life is that they know their children will never be sold or face mistreatment as they did.   
    I was astonished at this historical novel.  Ms. Austin was a genius not only in how she presented the historical facts about the Post Civil War era, but also in capturing the personal details and emotions that so many different groups of people faced in its aftermath.  I never dreamed of what these people actually dealt with.
    In many ways the wealthy families coming back were almost as poor as the slaves, but their situations were made worse because they had no skills or knowledge to care for their daily needs and homes.  A culture shock confronted them as they were stripped of their money and lavish, snobbish lifestyles.  They were broken people with only their self-righteous pride left.
    The soldiers left as strong, courageous young men only to return shattered emotionally, mentally and some physically.  Handicapped individuals then did not have all the medical help and devices to make life easier.  Many wished they had died rather than live as a cripple.  Some carried the guilt of being alive because their friends died. 
    Then there were the slaves who finally had freedom but had no means or knowledge to embrace it.   Their fear of their master’s abuse was replaced with fear being killed by angry ex-slave owners.  If they went away,  they had no means to support themselves nor any place to go.  In staying they are treated with the same disrespect and left with the workload of a household of slaves.  This was a very confusing time for them too.
    Also there were the southerners who fought for the slave’s freedom and wanted to help them in making a new life.  They found themselves in danger and hated by the bitter white men of the north for whom they blamed for their losses.  On the other hand the slaves feared trusting them because they were white. 
    As if 
    If all this wasn’t remarkable enough, Ms. Austin includes one more very important aspect.  In a crisis God is always at work whether we realize it or not.  We are either drawn closer to Him or turn away.  Not only was I a part of the character’s thoughts and emotions, but she also enabled me to experience their spiritual journey in such a tumultuous time. 
    I will never look at this era the same again.   She brought history and the characters alive!  This book is a masterpiece you WILL want to read!
    I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2012

    Excellent

    Great read, history and religion that combined, put you in the moment feeling the pain and suffering along with joys. Enjoy reading Lynn Austin books. Can't wait for her next one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Civil War has ended and now Josephine, her mother and younge

    The Civil War has ended and now Josephine, her mother and younger sister are ready to go home to White Oak Plantation after a long stay with her Aunt.  She is not even sure what condition the plantation will be in when they arrive. 




    She was surprised to find a few slaves had stayed even though they had been declared free of slavery.  The house was a shambles but it was still standing. It just needed some cleaning and she was sure her mother would make sure things were put in order.  Josephine was shocked by her mother's attitude that she was going to make everything the same as it was before the war.  As far as Josephine was concerned nothing would every be the same again. 




    With the one male ex-slave whom now is to be called a servant there was no way to get the fields planted with cotton.  His wife, two young sons and daughter were taking care of the cooking, cleaning and the other chores that Mrs. Weatherly expected to be done daily.  Yet there still was not enough hands or time in a day to get everything done according to Mrs. Weatherly's liking.  Mrs. Weatherly seemed to treat the servants as if they were still slaves. Josephine tried to help with some of the gardening and chores but it just angered her mother. So Josephine took to doing the chores around the time her mother was napping.




    Then things really got out of sorts when Josephine's brother, Daniel came home from the war.  It was hoped that he would be able to take over running the plantation.  But he was never trained for that position.  He had not excepted the fact that the war was over.




    Why is it that some people are so focused on the past that they can't seem to go forward?   Most wanted to blame God for the war and loss of loved ones.  When they lost the war they also lost their faith in God.




    The story brought out how wealthy women in the South were so sheltered they had no skills other than how to catch a husband and keeping the servants in line.  They had no idea how the clean clothes appeared or the silver polished, etc. 




    The author wrote of their lack of money, food, clothing, shoes especially trust and they were too proud to ask for help from their new government. 

    In this book you will see the Post Civil War through the lives of ex-Slaves, southern land owner and Union soldiers. 

    It was a hard book to put down.  I want to say so much more about this book but then you wouldn't have to read it.   I really want you to read this book.

    I highly recommend this book.

    Disclosure
    I received a free copy of this book from Baker/Bethany House Publishing for review.  I was in no way compensated for this review.  It is my own opinion.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2012

    Good book

    I was wanting a book to go beyond the civil war and this is it. I love all of Lynn Austins books. I love the the development of all the people. Its a fun way to get into history. I also like the challange it placed on my heart. It made me think about how I view people who are difrent then myself, and how willing I am to accept change.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    Outstanding...one of Austin's best!

    I eagerly await Austin's new release each fall and this one did not disappoint. She is a truely gifted writer, I love how her "historical" characters learn lessons which can I can apply to my own life. This book will remind you of her Refiner's Fire series, which I would also recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2014

    Lynn Austin did it again. This book really had me thinking. It i

    Lynn Austin did it again. This book really had me thinking. It is in the POV of southern families and former slaves just after the civil war. There was so much uncertainty and trying to rebuild their lives to the way they had been before the war without realizing that things will never be the same. The FREE slaves were afraid to hope for a better life and not trusting of anyone who suggested they could help them. Every character has a transformation of some kind. It is heartwarming as well as frustrating. An insightful adventure.

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  • Posted January 15, 2014

    Highly recommend!

    Lynn Austin is so talented in weaving history into her novels. This one is about the devastation and struggles the confederate families and the freed slaves go through after the Civil War. It gives a realistic view point from the former slaves and soldiers that I had not considered before. I hated for it to end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Lynn Austin is my new favorite Christian author. I love histori

    Lynn Austin is my new favorite Christian author. I love historical fiction and being able to also enjoy a Christian author completely fills my requirement of a good read. I have read several of Lynn's books my favorite series being Chronicles of the Kings. I enjoy a little romance and turns in a plot, and Lynn is masterful at both. If you enjoy historical fiction about the civil war (reconstruction), you will enjoy this book. If I were to have any criticism, I would have enjoyed a little more history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Anonymous

    I've read just the first five chapters of All Things New and I am sure that the book will not be disappointing. Lynn Austin is able to develop stories around historical events that makes you feel that you are there. This was a very troubled time in our country. The way of life was changed for so many.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2012

    All Things New is set in a volatile time in our American histo

    All Things New is set in a volatile time in our American history. Lynn Austin lays out with clarity and honesty the bigotry and prejudices that existed so prevalently at that time. Her characters show that just because one was on either the North or South side didn't determine if one was good or evil; those characteristics lie in our hearts. Watching these women adapt and struggle to survive amid the destruction and frustrations was an enjoyable journey.

    The plantation women must learn to adapt on their own in a changing world with very few men left to help them. Eugenia is determined to restore the plantation to it's former glory all while refusing to change her habits, which makes her transition much more painful.

    The former slaves must learn to cope with their newfound freedoms while dealing with the bigotry that exists all around them, their own preconceptions included. I really like Josephine, the daughter and Lizzie, the freed slave...they were the most relate-able to me as they struggled with trusting God and trying to control the things around them. They were also willing to work as hard as it took to provide for and protect their families and those they loved.

    This book shows a journey of faith, healing and honesty and I truly enjoyed reading it.

    In exchange for my honest review, I received a copy of the book from Bethany House

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 27, 2012

    In Lynn Austin¿s most recent novel, All Things New, a young woma

    In Lynn Austin’s most recent novel, All Things New, a young woman returns to what had been her antebellum home at White Oak Plantation in Virginia. The difficulties surrounding the reconstruction years of the Old South are brought to light as a family tries to cope with the bitterness of having enemies who so violently ravaged what the family had loved. The war of northern aggression had turned what was once beautiful and opulent into a tattered remembrance of its former glory. The land wasn’t the only casualty though; the family has to deal with a war that has claimed the lives of the father by pneumonia and one of the sons in battle. The other son, Daniel, has emotionally changed as well from what he has seen in the war. Lizzie, a freed slave, stays on with the family to help them rebuild the plantation.
    The young woman, Josephine, feels bitterness against God who has seemed to ignore her prayers. Only when a young man, Alexander, enters into her life with his vibrant faith and commitment to the Word of God does she begin to heal.
    Austin does a tremendous job in contrasting the old with the new just as Rev. 21:4-5 say in the opening pages of the book. The artistic description of the Old South beauty juxtaposed against the devastation of the current reality of having to rebuild into something new is interwoven with a faith journey that compels the reader to feel what Josephine felt, to cry with her in her loss, and to ultimately come to peace with her God.
    I was given this book by Bethany House in order to provide a reader’s review. I received no compensation and all opinions are my own.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I read my review copy of Lynn Austin¿s new book All Things New f

    I read my review copy of Lynn Austin’s new book All Things New from Bethany House in a few days. It is definitely one of Lynn’s best books to date. Her historical fiction account shows us how one must have felt during and after the civil war. In reading the story of the women returning to their southern plantations after the civil war, I was drawn to the many similarities between history and current events. People have returned after leaving their beloved homes due to tragedy, war, or act of God - the most recent being the storm Sandy. They found that their belongings and homes had either been damaged or were gone; they realized that life would never again be the same. Many of the people returning no longer have electricity, running water or the conveniences of modern life, but the woman after the Civil War returned to complete devastation and had to learn an entire new way of life.

    The theme and lesson throughout this book is that you have to look positively at the things you still have and move on without the things you have lost. This theme is timeless, as shown by recent events. Think of the person in New Orleans who found a relic from the past as they were looking through the rubble only to wonder why it had not been washed out to sea. What message did God have for them in that small reminder of the past and present. The same with the people who are living through the recent storms, they have friends and family to help them through it, they have no heat but can layer their clothes to keep warm or go to a shelter that has been set up to provide for them. Rescue workers are there with food and water as well as other supplies. As they sift through the rubble they find things like pictures and mementos to help them remember the past.

    In “All Things New” the women coming back to their homes had nothing. Their clothes were old and in need of mending, family members died, returning soldiers were going through what our military is today, and they had no animals or gardens to provide them with the nourishment they needed. But, they were strong; they were used to hard work and trusted in God to help them get through the difficult times and to move ahead. I highly recommend this book as a gift this holiday season for someone who needs to have a little bit of a boost or who wants to believe that the future will be brighter. I give it five stars out of five.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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