Lynn Austin,
A Light to My Path
(Bethany House, 2004)

Lynn Austin turns out another Civil War novel that's full of heart-felt moments as we read about a young girl who is a slave to a selfish, pampered brat just before and during the Civil War conflict in the United States.

Kitty, an orphan, loses her name quickly, when the daughter of the plantation owner wants a cat and Anna wants a comfortable place to call home. Anna becomes "Kitty" and never questions her right to her own name, or to her own dignity.

That is, until Grady, a strong young man with fire in his heart for the injustices done to him through the slave trade, comes into the picture. His fire and Kitty's calm acceptance run at loggerheads even though there is a wonderful connection between them.

They are separated. Kitty grows into a young woman, and Grady turns into a more forgiving man. It's a beautiful story set with Austin's proficient knowledge of Civil War history. Austin's skill with words makes it easy to imagine the heartbreak of coloured families as they are separated for various reasons beyond their control and are treated poorly by inhumane and unfeeling owners.

The story seems fairly familiar, and I thought that the characters might be found in other of Austin's novels. However, the story holds together and is an entertaining read about the struggles in the South during this time period.

Lynn Austin has a niche, and if you enjoy soft love stories set in true, historical settings that take place during this era, you'll enjoy this author and this book.

by Virginia MacIsaac
5 August 2006

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