Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Waves of Mercy

Waves of Mercy
Lynn Austin
(Bethany House Publishers)
ISBN: 978-0764217616
October 2016/384 pages/$15.99

Haunted by the Unknowns of Their Pasts, Two Women Search for Answers Along the Shores of Lake Michigan

Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.

Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town's settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.

Past and present collide as Anna and Geesje seek clarity, but neither expects the revelations that await them.

Read an excerpt.


Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was named to the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. One of those novels, Hidden Places, has also been made into an Original Hallmark Channel movie. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and make their home in western Michigan. Learn more at lynnaustin.org.


Multi-award winner Lynn Austin has penned yet another enthralling novel that was impossible to put down. I love how she intertwined the past and the "present" (this is a historical novel, but portions are flashbacks to a more distant past) and juxtaposed Geesje's memories with Anna's story. Both women immediately endeared themselves to me: Netherlands emigre Geesje as she reminisced about her life with its heartaches and joys, difficulties and triumphs, and Anna as she searched for the reasons for her troubling nightmares and longed to learn more about faith and God. Austin unfolds the story perfectly, and while I guessed how the story might end, that did not diminish my enjoyment at all. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Derk and the wonderful role he plays in the story. Such a gentleman and friend he is to Anna, and not deserving of the scorn and derision directed at him by Anna's rigid and socially conscious mother. Aptly titled, Waves of Mercy is a pure delight. Grab your copy today!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Baker/Bethany House Publishing. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


1. You grew up in New York, lived in Canada, South America, Connecticut, Illinois and now western Michigan. So, after all the places you’ve lived, how and why did you decide to write about Holland, MI? What inspired you or piqued your curiosity?
I grew up in the area of New York State that was originally owned and settled by the Dutch, and I visited Holland for the first time when I attended Hope College. I was immediately impressed by how proud the community was of their faith and their Dutch heritage. My husband grew up in Holland, so when we decided to move back there two years ago, I began researching Holland’s history to see if it would make a good novel. It intrigued me to learn that the first Dutch settlers came here in 1846 for religious freedom after suffering persecution in the Netherlands. Since that’s true of so many other immigrant peoples over the years, I knew the story would resonate with many readers. I was very surprised to learn how much hardship these early settlers suffered in the process of founding this community. If nothing else, their story taught me not to take our religious freedom or the American Dream for granted.

2. Are the events included in your book historically accurate?
I tried hard to keep the dates and circumstances I portray in the novel as accurate as I possibly could. But Waves of Mercy is a novel and not intended to replace all of the history books about Holland. My main characters—Maarten, Geesje, and her family—are products of my imagination. No one by those names immigrated with the original settlers. But I relied on first-person accounts and diaries written by Holland’s original settlers for accurate details of their life in Holland. Some excellent books have also been written about Reverend Van Raalte and his vision for this community, which helped me bring his part of the story to life. My “Author’s Note” at the end of the novel explains what dates and events are true and what ones I tweaked for plotting purposes.

3. What did you find most interesting about the Dutch community as you did your research?
I was amazed by how committed the members of the Dutch community were to each other and to God. The Christian faith that the settlers shared is still very strong and vibrant in Holland, which has more than seventy churches in a population of 33,000. As I researched the many hardships the original settlers faced—famine, sickness, shipwreck, fire, war—I found it amazing that their faith in God never seemed to falter. And it’s still being passed down to the next generation today.


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