“Where We Belong” by Lynn Austin

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In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Lynn Austin
I want to be just like the Hawes sisters when I grow up!  They’re the neatest people.  I love the way that they don’t let themselves be defined by Victorian standards and how they stand up for what they feel is right, no matter the repercussions.  From clothing choices to how they spend their time, Flora and Rebecca do exactly what they feel God is leading them to do.
I love their refrain: God knows the hour of our end, so there’s no need to worry”  (That’s my summary of it, not an exact quote.)  I’m horrible about worrying and seeing trouble around every corner, so I loved hearing this motto throughout the story.  Having it come up whenever trouble was in sight was a great way to remember what is really important.
The sisters were fascinating main characters.  I loved the history embedded in the story, but their pluck and sense of adventure was by far my favorite part.  I loved their willingness – no, their determination – to head out on an adventure, whether it was down the street or overseas.  That’s exactly the kind of person I want to be!  
Austin wrote the perfect ending for the sisters.  Their life does not give them the neat-and-tidy ending they wanted, but it does fit the plot of the story and the character of the women.  I enjoyed seeing it play out and couldn’t wait to find out what happened – although I didn’t want it to end!
I was shocked when I turned the last page and found out that the Hawes sisters were based on real women.  Who knew?  I’ve never heard of the real people before, but I definitely want to learn more about them now.  They sound like super interesting people, and I love that Austin took a piece of truth and built such fascinating characters around real women.
I haven’t read an Austin book yet that is less than wonderful, but they seem each to get better by turn.  Where We Belong is my favorite Austin offering yet.
I received a free copy of  Where We Belong from the author.  All opinions are my own.

What are your thoughts?

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