By the fullness of Your House

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

It is rather a challenge to put my thoughts together this evening. Maybe it is because I am tired, and the weariness of daily-activities (or procrastination of them) have been eating at me a bit these past few days. The feeling that you're in a transitory stage, a section of your life you are desperate to get done with and move onto the next phase of life's journey, and feeling trapped in the tedium of your present duties. . . that pretty much sums up my emotions right now. 

And sometimes, it is so easy to escape.

So much easier to drown yourself in the frivilous-time-eating stuff, movies, internet, social media, chatter, noise, busy-life-activities, and 'wholesome nonesense' than to take stock of your duties, be responsible and get the job done, no matter if it is a rather messy one, or you are bored by it, and feel alone. But God honours a faithful worker - being perseverant about our present duties and calling. The two words I have felt this year were most a challenge for me were "thankfulness" and "faithfulness". In other words, I must jolly well rejoice in all things, and must faithfully persevere at being thankful and faithful. The job will not get done, the mountain will not be overcome, unless this or that tiny, irritating thing, and this little insignificant task which I feel like postponing GETS DONE! 

In theses "insignificant" things, I speak of my schooling, my music training, my writing and literary self-education and in my family life and tasks at hand. But they are so very important to me, and I struggle and worry and cry and fail and get it all wrong. And yet the Lord knows, He loves and cares. . . and I am so happy and thankful in spite of my feelings of how much I lack and am needy and can't go on. Because the Lord is with me. And also, there is joy and interest and lots of fun to this stage of life - much to treasure and learn and soak up in - things I do not want to miss, or let pass. I want to redeem the time, treasure it and thank God for every blessing and experience I am in.

It seemed much easier in the first half of the year though - now we are a few days away from being half-way-done with 2014 (*gasps*), and the climb, the effort is ever so much more challenging. And my cry is, Lord, please help me. I can't do it by myself. Be there with me and help me thank you and glorify your name in the good and in the hard, in the exciting times, and in the difficult-up-hill-enchanted-meadow times. Give me the perseverance and strength! Without you I can do nothing. I am a barren fruit. Come in, dear Lord, and wash me with Your precious blood; let me drink from the fountain of life, and rejoice in Your constant Presence by my side and in your faithfulness.

"How precious is your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied by the fullness of Your house,
And you give them drink from the river of Your pleasures
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light."
- Psalm 36: 7-9

A Continuation of the Inquisition

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

In the past months, I have been receiving a build-up of 'Tag' questions from other bloggers, and have been kind of storing them for a 'rainy day' :). It isn't rainy today, to be precise, but my days of late are extremely busy with comings and goings and doings, and it makes it a challenge sometimes to find the time and energy to sit down and write down my more in-depth and philosophical thoughts with the due attention and perspective they require. Also, I have noticed some wonderful new faces on the blog lately, which is simply delightful (welcome!), and I suppose that a tag post with a few interesting 'inquisitions' about my interests, writing, reading, etc would not go amiss with you all. 

It probably is good to here mention as well, that I have not forgotten the blog-birthday questions sent to me last year, around this time, which I have not yet responded to. Wait a minute - did I mention that before? Okay, I did, but I easily forget, so I like to remind myself now and again so it stays in the forefront of my mind too :). In the next couple of days/weeks I shall work on responding to those questions, Lord willing, as well as some of those piling-up tags. Like this one below, which is a combination of two tags given me last year from Katie of Whisperings of the Pen and Gabrielle from The Ink Stained Parchment Thanks, lovely ladies! :)

In other news, I have finally acquired a Learner's Driving Licence; I am also officially hooked to the Scarlet Pimpernel.

"Odds fish, my dear, the man can't even tie his own cravat."

 Questions From Katelyn :)

1. Peeta or Gale? (This has everything to do with everything.) 
Peeta sounds like Peeta Bread - is that a chance thing? Pun aside, I have not watched the movies or read 'The Hunger Games' series from which I suppose these two characters 'Peeta and Gale' come from,  so I wouldn't know how it has 'everything to do with everything'. Sorry! I have to quickly say though, to set the record straight, that while many of my friends are quite into The Hunger Games I am not generally very keen on the whole of the dystopian genre in general (my family still raise a brow when I allude to the genre, it is quite untraversed by us!). I will not say that The Hunger Games has not passed my attention or interest, since I have an interest and respect for my friends' opinions/tastes and there seems to be some thought-provoking and wholesome material to the Hunger Games stories. But with all the cons I have gathered through reviews and the like on both the books and movies (the violence, the romance and some of the topics at hand) I think I would not attempt delving into them at this stage of my life. 
2. Do you force yourself to finish a writing project before starting on a new one? 
On most occasions I do. I am not very much of a multi-tasked person and I have tried to maintain a rule that I can't keep starting new writing projects, and then jump to another one as soon as it strikes my fancy when my old ones aren't finished yet. There is something called perseverance in writing and it is very vital if we want to succeed, folks! That's been my general way of thinking. H-o-w-e-v-e-r, I have now once broken my rule, and in this case, I feel I was quite justified. For more than four years, I worked on 'The Crown of Life', my novel that is set in Ancient Rome, without stopping or turning to new projects which I had longed to write. But then early on in 2012 I had a feeling I had to take a break and start afresh - sometimes one can grind at a work for too long! I started out with writing the WW2 short story 'A Love that Never Fails' for a competition and that was good and well, but then I saw that I could extend it into a novel and work on it side-by-side with 'The Crown of Life' as a lighter story. Finally, after praying about it and thinking it through, I chose to put 'The Crown of Life' aside for a season and focus writing singularly on 'A Love that Never Fails' as I felt A Love that Never Fails to be the best novel I could work on at this stage of my life and literary-career. In a way though, these two stories have been with me and are still with me as I work on each of the stories, and my heart is constantly on the one even when my attention is focused on the other.
3. Do you people-watch? Do you find this inspires you to create more relatable, three-dimensional characters based on your observations? 
 Yes, I do. At least I do when I myself am not wholly immersed in a conversation with a person or group of persons. When I am quiet I do tend to find myself observing the little quirks of people, the facial expressions and spit-fire of debate and dialogue between humans and keep it stored in my brain for later use. Also the behavior of people in real life is a wonderful inspiration to realizing the dimension and depth (or superficiality) of the characters in the tales I spin. And then there is observance of appearance of people--that's fun but rather cheeky!
4. Do you write best when warm and cozy indoors, or outdoors with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair?
I will find inspiration for glory and splendor and beauty and meditation best outdoors with the sun in my face and the wind in my hair, but I will most definitely be able to write better in a warm and cozy nook indoors in complete quiet and peace. 

Gabrielle's Inquiries!

1. Twilight or Harry Potter or neither?
My answer is neither Twilight or Harry Potter. I have neither read nor watched any of them, but from what I know about and heard from others/reviews, etc, I have no interest in them, am extremely wary of them and --to put it bluntly and with no care of offending anybody-- think them downright evil. Both have un-Biblical worldviews and Harry Potter has a serious danger of not having a clear distinction between what is good and what is evil and besides being immersed in witchcraft and wizardry. I know even less of Twilight but anything with vampires and queer romance and goodness knows what else makes me want to stay as far away from it as possible (besides, it is known to have very little literary merit!).  You will also note, that unlike The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, the authors of such fantasies are not Christian and from what I've heard have embraced ungodly worldviews such as New Age etc. They do not encourage or beautify the biblical virtues of fidelity, faithfulness, resisting temptation, repentance, mercy, courage and enduring suffering nor do they present any Christian message of redemption or hope as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien for instance did. This is rather a large topic and I shall try to address it further in a post sometime, Lord willing.
3. Author(s) that has inspired/influenced your writing the most?
Truthfully, I stand on the mere tip, an ice-burg of a world of literature unexplored, where lies an ocean of works that I long to one day read and discover and be inspired by. Yet I would honestly not be where I am now without the inspiration and influence of particular authors who have so far taught me what it is to write and write well the sort of stories that inspire and touch the things deep in our hearts, stirs our hopes and imaginations and feelings to sagas of greatness, beauty, faith and the greatness of our God. J.R.R. Tolkien taught me that, and so did C.S. Lewis. Their stories and words have influenced me in ways I cannot begin to imagine! Other authors who have touched a vein of my heart one way or another and thus my writing are authors such as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskall, John Bunyan, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rosemary Sutcliff, Patricia St. John, Elizabeth Elliot, Edith Nesbit, Ethel Turner, Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor H. Porter, Elizabeth George Speare, and John and Elizabeth Sherril (authors of classic biographies such as The Hiding Place, God's Smuggler, and The Happiest People on Earth). There are others who through one single novel of theirs have worked volumes in gripping me and wrangling my emotions into shreds; of them, Lew Wallace's novel, Ben Hur, Lloyd C. Douglas' The Robe and A. J. Cronin's The Keys of Kingdom rank chief. I have few modern authors that I have read and can attribute the inspiration for my writing for, but I do appreciate Chuck Black's writings to a great degree, as well as authors Janette Oke, Jill Stengl, Anna Schmidt and Davis Bunn for select novels they've written. My favourite modern fantasy author is undoubtedly Anne Elisabeth Stengl! Lastly, two modern and relatively young authors who have inspired and challenged my writing immensely and to whom I am deeply grateful for the material they write are Jennifer Freitag and Abigail J. Hartman. 
4. If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The British Isles, Europe and New Zealand are in my dream-list of visiting one day; and simply for the sake of seeing some of my friends and some special sights, maybe America too =).
5. If you were given the chance of having your book turned into a movie, would you say yes or no?  If no, why?  If yes, did you agree to it with certain conditions in mind?
You know this is rather a hypothetical question, considering that neither of my two books are even complete yet! But both 'The Crown of Life' and 'A Love that Never Fails' can have potential for movies, if I do say so myself! Nonetheless I would feel somewhat disappointed if it was taken up by a small/amateur movie cooperation who would be unable to bring the story to justice through casting, script, props and technology. I would not say no, I don't think, (who could resist?) but I'd be prone to a wistful feeling of regret that it could not be brought to the standard of one's imagination; besides, if taken up by a Christian movie cooperation there is a likelihood of the Christian message will be stressed in a somewhat 'forced' and 'artificial' way; I see this especially in 'The Crown of Life'. If I were left to my daydreams, it would be amazing if my books could be turned into movies by someone like Peter Jackson or Andrew Adamson, Tom Hooper or Steven Spieling -crazy I know! But they would do the story justice I think. My biggest concern would be that they mess up with the romance in my stories (changing it to be more 'Hollywood style') and in straying from the true characters of my story, and too stripping the stories of all faith-related themes. I would not mind it too much if they deviated a little from the story-line and added or deleted characters and scenes etc. My biggest prerequisite to a book of mine being turned into a movie would be that the movie-makers remain true to the spirit and message and heart of the book.
6. What time of day do you write the most?
The most time I ever get to write is generally in the evenings, from around 8pm till 10pm. And on Saturdays when I have free-time to write, I write the most in the few hours before dinner (3:00-5:30pm). I generally do very little writing in the morning, but that is usually because I have schoolwork and chores then.
7. Do you listen to music while you write?  If so what genre?
It generally depends on the mood I am in while I am writing. Sometimes it can prove an inspiration (especially putting on the music I have on Spotify), and at other times, when I am struggling or nose-high in the emotions of a scene I'd rather be in complete quiet. The genre of music I prefer to listen to while writing would be instrumental music--mainly movie soundtracks or classical music--or quiet hymns, gentle pop-songs and church-music.
8. Have you ever gotten inspiration for a novel while watching one of your favorite TV shows/movies?
Yes, oh yes I have! I actually draw inspiration from all sorts of facets in life. That would include inspiration from a tv show sometimes and most definitely from a movie! 

Until That Distant Day - Author Feature

Monday, 5 May 2014

Yesterday, I wrote a detailed review of the novel 'Until That Distant Day' on my blog, which you can check out right here. As it is, today I have the special pleasure of being part of the launch tour for this novel, and of featuring Jill Stengl, the award-winning author of this French-Revolution saga on Fullness of Joy blog among many other lovely blogs. This is a very special novel, and am really excited for others to enjoy it as well. In this post, there is a fabulous giveaway which you must not miss out on, and also, I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask Mrs. Stengl a question regarding her book and receive her insightful response which you can read below. But first, here is what Until That Distant Day is all about . . .

Colette and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

"Jill Stengl is one of the rare authors with the ability to transport the reader to another world--a delightfully rich world of scent and sight and sound.” – Kim Vogel Sawyer, bestselling author of Echoes of Mercy

“Award-winning author Jill Stengl has created her greatest work yet in the inspiring and moving Until That Distant Day.” Jill Eileen Smith, bestselling author of the Wives of King David series.

Meet the Author:
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.
She blogs at Books, Cats, and Whimsy. Do stop by and follow her to keep up with all her writing and reading-related activities!

My Question:
Considering that this book is set during the French Revolution-an exciting and rich era for any history-buff!--how did you manage your research, and what helped you weave the threads of history, with your own story together into the making of 'Until That Distant Day'?

Jill Stengl's Response:
Great question, Joy! I own some great reference books that, aside from being useful in themselves, guided me to public-domain works and eye-witness accounts available on the Internet. One major difficulty I faced was choosing when to begin and end this book. I first attempted to bite off too large a chunk of history, which made the story thin. After cutting it down to a three-month period, I was able to focus more on how unfolding events affected my major characters. This involved entering Colette’s world in medias res: complex interlinking relationships already exist among the various characters, major romances in the book have already begun to develop, and several crucial interpersonal conflicts occur or begin in the first few chapters.
Trust me, this book went through many drafts before emerging in its current form! I settled on the summer of 1792, three years after the Fall of the Bastille and one year before the famous Reign of Terror began, partly because the events of that time are not as widely known and partly to leave room for possible sequels.
I hope readers will fall in love with my characters as deeply as I did!
Get your ebook copy of Until That Distant Day for only .99 on Amazon!
Is your interest piqued? Did you know that you can purchase the e-book version of Until That Distant Day on Amazon for only .99 throughout the special Launch Tour? I highly recommend this novel for all history-loving readers, and for anyone who simply loves a really beautiful and stirring story. You should check it out!

This is one of the many special stops Jill Stengl will be doing throughout this week as part of the launch of her novel. To keep tuned to the wonderful posts on different blogs as they come, here is the . . .
Launch Tour Schedule:
May 5

May 6

May 7

May 8

May 9

May 10

May 11

May 12

May 13 – Giveaway Winner Announced

And in grand finale, Jill Stengl is offering a super wonderful giveaway - an autographed copy of Until That Distant Day, and tin of Harney and Sons "Paris" tea!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until that Distant Day by Jill Stengl - book review

Sunday, 4 May 2014

"My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the bottom of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house."
- Until That Distant Day, Jill Stengl (pg. 8)

So, hello there, friends! This blog has fallen a little silent . . . but I am back, if only for a short while (yeah, life is busy!). Here I have with me a book I just finished reading eagerly, abet sleepily, late into the night last week. A while ago, Anne Elisabeth Stengl emailed me about reading and reviewing an e-copy of her mother's latest novel, and I immediately jumped at the opportunity - I love Anne Elisabeth's novels so I placed my bets her mother must be pretty good too, I am a lover of historical fiction in general, and a novel set during the French Revolution sounded deliciously fascinating. (YES PLEASE!) Howweeverrr... I confess that I was hard-pressed to find time to read the PDF review copy once I received it, due mostly to the awkwardness of reading a rich historical French Revolution saga of a sprawling 400 page-length on the tiny screen of my phone (in tricksy pdf format); I procrastinated, sweated and left it to the last minute. Then last week, in a pinch of panic, I pulled up my laptop, curled up into a ball by the living-room couch, opened the pdf, and decided to plow through it. . . no matter the cost! By early Wednesday morning, having stayed up past midnight the night before to finish it, my eyes remained breathlessly glued to the screen till that last page! 

My thought-musings for this book comes quite overdue, but the saying is that late is better than never. Therefore, now I pluck the tattered shreds of my courage, and give you a review of this memorable novel, Until that Distant Day by award-winning author Jill Stengl. 
Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl
Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.
But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?
My Thoughts:
Well, for summoning up my thoughts, I find myself in a bit of a quandary, for I both loved this book fiercely for its uniqueness and realistic story-telling, while at the same time I also felt that there was a lot more potential and hinted possibilities (especially character-wise) for this book than was explored by the author. In the end, I probably enjoyed this novel far more than I anticipated, and I definitely got thrilled at every new twist and turn of Stengl's pen - she is truly a wonderful storyteller, with a deft hand at weaving characters and plots that seem unrelated, drawing their threads together suddenly and delightfully to a climax; quite a Dickens trademark! And the theme of fallen humanity during such an immoral era, and God's grace, His peace given to His children in a dark, troubled world, rang beautifully throughout the story's pages. 

Until That Distant Day starts off in a slightly un-characteristic fashion to the average historical novel, in the fact that Colette, the main character, talks to us through the story, telling us the things that happen and her thoughts in -what I felt- was the emotions of hindsight. It was very unique way, and I got interested in Colette's point-of-view and her quiet but strong and thoughtful interests quite from the start. She says, in opening, 'I was born believing that the world was unfair and I was the person to set it right.' That line pretty accurately sums up her disillusioned view of her city, the people she lives among, and her own stained past, while still caring about things, the people and places she knows, and desiring to better and change them - to help others and in so doing, redeem and heal her past wrong-doings and hurts. Colette is a strong heroine, with her own voice shining through - she drew me in as an endearing, faithful sort of woman - with her strengths,  flaws and heartaches. She has a caring heart, and serving hands and I related with her desire to watch out for all her many younger brothers, protecting them, scolding them soundly (just like a mother-hen) and holding them close to her heart, even when they did not fully appreciate her love. That was very special and relatable!

Set in the thick of things of Paris during 1972, I have to applaud Jill Stengl's deftness in writing a historical drama. It is in the small details, the language, the culture and in the very nitty-gritty descriptions of attire, food, weapons and furniture - the very air itself - through which an author best depicts the era he/she is writing in. With Until That Distant Day, I was instantly pulled into the world of the French Revolution, thanks to those special details - the garden of the doctor which Colette tends faithfully and fondly, the safe haven of the kitchen she works in with Leonie, the slums where she serves and gives food to slave girls like Telly. It was fascinating! The addition of French lines in the character's conversations added a excellent spice. Having always wished to add bits of Latin into the dialogue of my own Ancient Roman novel, I enjoyed this feature very much. Mais oui! 

As for the politics, I probably am not as well-informed about the history of the French Republic as I should be, and at first I was slightly confused when I read about the sans-culottes, and how the Republican assembly seemed in control of Paris, even though the King was still on the throne. I toddled off to my wonderful historian sister, Sarah, who explained the background of things for me all proper, so I learnt a thing or two more about the Revolution through Until That Distant Day in the mix! One of the things I love about historical fiction is that you learn about the past through the threads of a good story :). Perhaps the most stirring historical element was the massacre of the priests, and how Colette and her brothers were affected by that. That left me quite sad :(

You know how I mentioned Stengl's cast of characters reminded me of Dickens a bit? Well, I will talk about the characters now, because I think they deserve a good paragraph! :) As one reviewer said, this novel is totally character-driven. . . in some ways I think that the plot suffers a bit in balance, and that sometimes means that some characters, who seem like main-characters, play their roles in the background of things; often, you wish to know what this character is thinking or reacting over in the situation. But on the upside, following this story closely amidst a huge cast through Colette's eyes, you realize it is the same in real life. How often do you know the truth of things about other people, or what has been happening to them? You learn and understand through little bits and pieces about others - even about Colette herself, and you must be patient to get into the thick, exciting happenings of her life in time. And exciting things do happen!

Colette has many brothers, but we just get to know three of them: Pascoe, √Čtienne, and Claude. Pascoe and she are very close - but as the Revolution begins to unravel and become bloody, and Pascoe more and more a figure and leader of the Revolution, she and Pascoe drift apart. Could his resentment of Doctor Hillard, for whom Colette works as housekeeper, have a good enough reason? For his sake, could she give up a position she is truly happy in? Pascoe was at times very hard to like. If he is confident, charismatic, and full of charm - he is also a dissolute, rebellious and bitter, has a mistress, gets into duels, is bitterly sardonic of faith, and is all round a typical political hero in public, and a rascal in private-life. Colette loves him deeply, but her loyalties to the Doctor, and her desire to do what is right, bring that conflict to the fray. I enjoyed reading the relationship of the two, as siblings, both how close they were, and how conflicted they were. . . but how they loved each other deep down in the end. And so yes, I am glad I did not quite give-up hope for Pascoe, because, even for such a one as he, grace may yet be found. Claude. I think his character could have been explored more . . . what I glimpsed of him was not particularly endearing, but there were little glints of vulnerability to him that helped keep him real and interesting for the fleeting bits that we meet him. √Čtienne was my favourite of the brothers, though, he was the last I actually took the time to notice, in the same way Colette did. He is deeply religious, reticent and shy and also distant from the political whirlwind surrounding his siblings, but he cares a lot, and works hard at the blacksmith. I was cheering him along all the way :). Leonie Hillard (the doctor's daughter), was a mystery for both Colette and me from the start, but I enjoyed coming to know her, and even grew fond of her in  time ;). Leonie's childhood playmate, Adrienne, (and her husband Arnaud), was my favourite. . . she did wrong, and I was grieved to read about that, but her vulnerability and fears were so heart-wrending, she was so young, you cannot help but feel a shred of pity for her!  As for Doctor Hillard, he was even more mysterious and elusive than his daughter. Out of all the characters, he was probably the hardest nut to crack. If only he had more space in the story to 'get to know him', I think I would have come to appreciate him better.

While Until That Distant Day is a historical romance, there is surprisingly little romance to this novel (definitely not the lovey-dopey mushy sort!!), and as you all know, that was a winning point for me. This novel's focus was more on relationships besides the romantic kind, - on loving your neighbor, forgiving your brother, etc, - elements that are usually pushed aside in most novels these days for the Big Love Plot! What romance was there was sweet and appropriate, and totally fit the maturity of the characters - I did feel that the romantic arc for Colette in the novel was a little rushed, but other than that I had nothing to complain for the romance of this novel. The other side of the coin, however, is that this story deals with some detail on the moral situation in Paris during the Revolution that prevailed at the time - a truly immoral and godless age. Colette herself had a few unhappy affairs in her past for which she is both ashamed and grieved by (those are mentioned only briefly, in passing conversations), and on more than one occasion Pascoe urges her to take on the occupation of a mistress.  I thought that appalling for a brother to do, but I admired Colette's staunch desire to do what is upright, and her encouragement of other young ladies in the mire of immorality. I especially appreciated her kindness to Adrienne, in whom she saw much of her unhappy past. Though there is much reference to the immorality surrounding the Republic, none of them were given in any details. I would however recommend this book for older readers (16 and up), due to the mature themes.

My favourite part of this story was when Colette started to seek God and turned to Him. The faith elements of this story were really well-done, but one of the things I especially appreciated in the novel was the realistic depiction of the manner in which Colette found her faith . . . Stengl does not try to convert her to an Evangelical Christianity, in a forced sort of way. Some authors would insist that their characters be somehow exposed to a certain theology, the perfect spiritual environment involving the character praying The Sinner's Prayer', and so forth. I don't mean to say that an author ought to throw his/her beliefs to the wind for the mere sake of expediency.  But I found it very natural and right that Colette ( in the setting, culture and era she is in) finds Christ in attending the liturgies and Mass, hearing about the Good Shepherd from the words of the priest, and crying out to God to protect her loved ones. Well done, Ms. Stengl!

In conclusion to this rather lengthy review, I must say I really enjoyed this book. The climax was gripping, both emotional and sad, but at the same time beautiful and right. The ending probably could have been stronger, and where certain plot elements weren't explored as much as I wished, I am inclined to stick to the 4-star rating. But this is a lovely book! Where I expected a typical, half-churned out historical novel, I instead found a memorable tale of a woman's longings to do what is right, protect her loved ones and follow in Christ's ways. In its very looseness of plot, in the small realities of Colette's life within the very big realities of the French Revolution, I found much to love and appreciate, both story and character-wise, as well as in themes and hope, from Until That Distant Day.

Ratings: ****
Audience recommended: 15/16 and up
*I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher for review.