Many of our readers will be familiar with author Lynn Austin (Chronicles of the Kings series, among others). What you might not know is that she settled in Holland, MI a few years ago and has now produced a new novel set during the period of Holland’s founding through the work of Rev. A. C. Van Raalte.
Waves of Mercy was released in early October (Bethany House) and has this description from the publisher:
Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.
At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.
Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.
Below is part of an interview held with her by Ann Byle and published at West Michigan Christian News (Oct.23, 2016). For the full story, follow the link below.
Q: What inspired you to write Waves of Mercy and set it in Holland?
A: 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. Also, 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 Dutch heritage.
Q: What interested you about Holland’s history?
A: I was intrigued to learn that the first Dutch sellers 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.
Q: Are the characters based on actual people?
A: The only “real” person in the story is Reverend (Dominie) Van Raalte, who led the Dutch immigrants to America in 1846. I read a collection of memoirs written by the first settlers, so I combined a lot of their stories when creating my characters. My main characters—Maarten, Geesje, and her family—are products of my imagination.