“Waves of Mercy” by Lynn Austin is a novel about the Dutch immigration to land in Wisconsin and Michigan in the early 1800’s. We follow Geejse and her family, as her parents decide to emigrate because of religious persecution in the Netherlands against the Separatists, who leave the state-mandated church to worship in one of their own. Geejse’a father is a printer who is forced out of business because of his family’s beliefs. Maarten is his apprentice and has been with him for ten years. Maarten decides to go with them, not only to help with the printing, but because he is in love with Geejse.
When they come to Michigan after a harrowing journey over the sea and Great Lakes, they find a wilderness. Starting from scratch, they have to build housing, find food, try to make a living and survive disease and pestilence. Geejse has left behind her sweetheart Hendrik who will meet her at a later time.
Fifty years later, the town of Holland, Michigan is celebrating its Semi-Centennial and asks the oldsters to write stories of their coming to Michigan and of their life fifty years ago. Geejse decides to write about her life, her loves, her disappointments, and her survival.
At this same time, Anna and her mother come from Chicago for a few weeks to help console Anna after her fiancé breaks their engagement. They are staying at the hotel there and the quiet and solitude provide an atmosphere where Anna can heal and decide what to do. Both Anna and Geejse question their faith in God and why He allows so much death and hardship. Switching back and forth between their two stories provides the reader with a good sense of the pioneering aspect of immigrants to the fledgling America.
I enjoyed this book very much. If there is any criticism of the story, it would be the constant biblical references as friends and family of both Anna and Geejse try to help them as they try to sort out their lives. There is a connection between the two which the reader is not privy to until the end of the book.
I was sent a complimentary print copy by Bethany House.