Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In April 1861, Lyndel Keim discovers two runaway slaves in her family’s barn. When the men are captured and returned to their plantation, Lyndel and her young Amish beau, Nathaniel King, find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish colony
Nathaniel enlists in what will become the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army. Lyndel enters the fray as a Brigade nurse on the battlefield, sticking close to Nathaniel as they both witness the horrors of war–including the battles at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. Despite the pair’s heroic sacrifices, the Amish only see that Lyndel and Nathaniel have become part of the war effort, and both are banished.
And a severe battle wound at Gettysburg threatens Nathaniel’s life. Lyndel must call upon her faith in God to endure the savage conflict and to face its painful aftermath, not knowing if Nathaniel is alive or dead. Will the momentous battle change her life forever, just as it will change the course of the war and the history of her country?
If you like historical fiction then “The Face of Heaven” is the book for you! Pura obviously has an extensive knowledge of
history and did his homework! I almost felt like I was reading a history book on the Civil War which wasn’t exactly a plus for me but it was definitely informative as well as accurate from what I remember of history class. An Amish story combined with such a strong historical element was a first for me.
Lyndel Keim lives a normal simple life in an Amish community in Elizabeth town until she feels compelled to somehow help out with the war. She is able to secure a nursing job that eventually puts her in harm’s way. Participating in war in any form is against the Amish beliefs and she is shunned and forbidden to have any contact with the family she has left behind. Luckily her brother Levi has accompanied her and her boyfriend Nathaniel is fighting in the war so she is not alone. Together they face all of the atrocities that go along with war.
Lyndel retains special permission from Abraham Lincoln to work on the battlefields as many men die before they reach help. She works alongside Clara Barton and earns a reputation of being a solid worker, caring, loving and making the difference of life or death for many of these men. She is light in their darkness and hope where there is despair.
There are several historical figures in this novel including Ulysses S. Grant and the aforementioned Barton and Lincoln. Pura’s depiction of them in relation to Lyndel was so real to me that I had to check to see if this was a true story! He goes into great detail about many of the famous battles of the Civil war. I must admit I often found myself skimming these pages because it didn’t interest me. A history buff would definitely find this appealing but I was more interested in Lyndel’s story.
For me this was too much history to keep me completely engaged. In fairness to Pura, anyone with a strong interest in history would probably disagree with me and be thrilled at the time dedicated to this element. His extensive knowledge on the subject is obvious but I think his passion for the subject overwhelmed the more personal storyline.