Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
“It’s a wonder you didn’t lose your mind.”
“Yes. But you see, God was keeping it.” He smiled. “A man can’t lose what God keeps.”
Nancy has to go spend six months in Pine City, Florida, if she wants to inherit $25,000 from her deceased uncle. And her corresponding brief stint as a church secretary for a handsome minister, Jack, doesn’t mean she’ll have to catch any stifling religion during her stay. Just a few months, and then she’ll be out of there with her money.
The South Wind Blew Softly is the second novel I’ve read by Ruth Livingston Hill, and despite its updated 1988 cover, the story itself doesn’t appear to have been updated from the 50s, when it was first published. (Good! I’m not a fan of updating novels for contemporary audiences. Just let the book be old, the way the author wrote it, and give contemporary readers the chance to relate to something from before their time.) It can be easy to romanticize about old-fashioned Christian Fiction, to think of it as all sweetness and light, but Ruth and her renowned mother, Grace Livingston Hill, did write about sordid matters and seamy sides of humanity within their redemptive messages.
In The South Wind, the author’s descriptions of the characters really make them distinctive. Granted, I was nervous when a “colored maid,” Emma, was introduced, a mammy figure who is the target of at least one character’s clearly ignorant sentiments. But Emma’s perception, wisdom, and dignity do come through, and her employer’s respect for her as a “wonderful woman” who “really loves the Lord” made me breathe easier.
As for the rest of the characters–eeesh! Most of them are despicable or pitiful. Even the heroine, Nancy, is rather haughty and vulgar at times, and though she does have some positive changes to undergo, I wouldn’t say that I ever completely warmed up to or developed definite admiration for her character, though her story is interesting. Her acquaintance (not a romantic acquaintance, mind you) with a certain compassionate and discerning older man actually provided me with some relief. The novel’s romance was quite delayed, minor, and didn’t strike me as very romantic, but as a romance flaming through most of the story wouldn’t have suited either of the characters involved, it suited me just fine.
Having read this and John Nielson Had a Daughter, my favorite novel of all time, I hope to read all of Ruth Livingston Hill’s books.