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In her rich and heartfelt sophomore novel, Ewen (Walk Back the Cat) bases the story line on her grandmother's life as a missionary's wife in the 1920s in what is now Thailand. Barbara is a gifted opera protégée who gives up her dreams when she marries Harvey Perkins, a medical doctor bound for Siam. Feeling stifled and afraid, she loses her comfortable Christian faith amid the rigid fundamentalism of the poverty-stricken mission in rural Nan. The couple returns home after Barbara has a nervous breakdown, but Harvey's zeal for his work soon lands them in Siam again. The love between the two is endearing, and Ewen skillfully portrays Harvey's inability to understand his wife's deepest needs and her inability to understand what drives him. Ewen's prose is laudably rich in specific and colorful detail, which becomes a problem when it slows down the pacing. Judicious cutting would have improved this overlong narrative. Barbara's questions of faith constitute the core of the book, as she struggles to define what makes up a meaningful life. Some readers will be disappointed by her final choice, while others will cheer at the ending. Ewen is a talented writer, and this is a strong addition to Christian fiction. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.