Thursday, October 28, 2010

Marta's Legacy Series by Francine Rivers

I have often thought that no book could come remotely close to stirring the emotions in me as Rivers Redeeming Love did. Many Christian readers agree, it is the all time best piece of fiction ever published. Whereas Redeeming Love is a perfect piece of Biblical fiction, Marta's Legacy is a near perfect work of Christian fiction. Based loosely on Rivers family heritage, no other series captures the mistakes parents-in this case, specifically Mothers-make with the sole purpose of wanting only the best for their daughters.

As a Mom of boys, I still found many things to relate to in this series. One of the biggest points Rivers makes is that by coddling a child, you cripple them. She does this in a profound way, and mostly by demonstrating that you can do all the wrong things for all the right reasons. I found myself wanting to climb within the book and shake the characters more than once and yell "Don't you see what you are doing? It's not working. Back off." I had to evaluate what I do with my own children, wondering if my good intentions get misinterpreted, and have made a vow to never do anything in the name of love that could be viewed as anything but.

In Her Mother's Hope, Marta is a young girl interested in only one thing-an education. Her father is convinced the cost for an education at the turn of the century is a waste on girls, and withdraws her from school when she is 12 to be hired out and work for the family income. Bitter, rejected, abused and driven, she leaves home at the age of 13 and almost literally never looks back. Then her mother dies of cancer after assuring Marta that she had her blessing to "fly" and to never come back home no matter what. When she learns that her fragile sister encounters her own tragedy, Marta does just that-flies and never comes back.

Through the struggles of love, marriage, building a home and family, "Hildie" is born to Marta and in her fragility, Marta decides she will not coddle her, hoping to not recreate the destiny of her own sister. What develops is an estranged relationship that continues through four generations.

"Hildie" gives birth to Carolyn and the cycle of tough love continues. It is only through Carolyn's daughter May Flower Dawn that a family torn by tightly controlled love can have hope for healing.

Some reviewers state A Mother's Hope, Book one in the series, was depressing. Yes, in places the continuous tragedy becomes overwhelming but it is crucial to the overall storyline, and well worth reading through for understanding. I never wanted to put the book down in spite of the sadness, in fact, stayed up late many nights to finish. The second and last book in the series, Her Daughter's Dream, initially appears to hold the same patterns of mistakes being made and little hope for a turn around. It is a pleasant surprise when May Flower Dawn takes hold of the truth of healing and the real change that the love of Jesus brings and decides the mistakes of her mother and Grandmother need to be mended. It is a powerful and positive ending to the legacy of pain and failure.

This series exceeded any expectation I had and is hovering right up there under Redeeming Love as Rivers all time best. I know this had to have been an exhausting but satisfying project as it did mirror the struggles of her own family. I could not recommend any series higher than this one. It will keep you up late into the night, contemplating your parenting motives and provoking changes in the way you mold your children.

Her Mother's Hope-book one
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 16, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414318634
ISBN-13: 978-1414318639
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches

Her Daughter's Dream-book two
Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 14, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414334095
ISBN-13: 978-1414334097
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.9 inches