Civil War Stories From Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin’s Refiner’s Fire is one of my all-time favorite historical fiction series. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but I still have a clear memory of vivid characters, sweeping narratives, and truly moving stories. It’s a trilogy of three independent stories set during the Civil War, each told from different perspectives–Southern, Northern, and slave: Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Light to My Path.


Lynn Austin has a new Civil War novel, All Things New, being released in October 2012, so I recently re-read Candle in the Darkness as a sort-of precursor…

And I loved it–again! I was completely engrossed and couldn’t put it down! Admittedly, this is probably because it’s been around seven years and I couldn’t remember the plot, but it’s always great to learn that a book you loved stands the test of time and fresh eyes.

Candle in the Darkness is the story of a young Southern girl, Caroline Fletcher. Caroline has always felt closer to her family’s slaves than to her despondent mother and often-absent father.  She has been raised in the culture of slavery, yet she draws her comfort, joy, and whole experience of family from the people her father owns. Her fondest childhood memories took place in the kitchen, rather than the drawing room of her wealthy home.9780764211911

As she grows older and starts to look more closely at the world, Caroline’s eyes are opened to the truth of the institution that surrounds her. When her mother dies and Caroline is sent north to live with her aunt, she becomes passionately engaged in the abolitionist movement. Her commitment to ending the injustice of slavery only increases when  her father brings her home, out of a growing concern over her interest in the abolitionist movement. When war breaks out, Caroline finds that she has loved ones on both sides of the battlefield, as well as loved ones whose future depends on the outcome. Forced to choose between the man she loves and the cause she believes in, Caroline must decide where her loyalties lie…and learn to accept the consequences of her convictions.9780764211928

I highly recommend the entire Refiner’s Fire series. Each novel stands alone, united by the time period and excellence of Austin’s writing. I look forward to Austin’s return to this turbulent, but fascinating, period of American history.

All Things New by Lynn Austin will be available October 2012 from Bethany House Publishers.