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. Bethany House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Rebecca and Flora are nineteenth-century sisters who wouldn’t be satisfied with only high society living. Their desire for adventure and to live out a deeper purpose eventually takes them to the Sinai Desert, in search of an ancient biblical manuscript. But their expedition becomes increasingly dangerous in Where We Belong, a novel by author Lynn Austin.
Even at nearly 500 pages, which is longer than I usually go for these days (simply due to lack of time to spend on a single book), I remained interested for this whole novel. I liked the structure of the story, how it moves back and forth through time. It reveals bits of the tale in the “present,” 1890, and then travels to the past to fill in the puzzle pieces.
I found Part One, from Rebecca’s perspective, to be the strongest, but the other characters, and their respective parts, didn’t do as much for me. Part Three in particular seems like a rushed section of background information that only has enough time for the highlights, so it becomes melodramatic, almost simplistic. Considering the novel’s general pacing, it might have taken an additional book to bring out a richness in each character’s part.
The romances in the story are underdeveloped, and one of them diminishes the greater purpose of the sisters’ expedition, overshadowing a search holding such momentous international and historical implications with a more narrow quest for a husband. Also, the characters’ eyes begin welling up too frequently. Well-placed crying or evidence of tears can be powerful, but when tears come up on so many occasions, the characters come off as weepy, and what could have been poignant starts to feel maudlin.
Nevertheless, the overall storytelling was enjoyable for me, as I’m sure it will be for many other historical ChristFic readers.