Title: Though Waters Roar
Author: Lynn Austin
Genre: Christian historical fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: It was ironic.
Harriet Sherwood adores and admires her independent, fiery grandmother Bebe. Bebe watched her mother hide slaves and help them escape along the Underground Railroad, and, as an adult, found her own cause in Prohibition. While growing up, Harriet has watched Bebe fight tirelessly for the eradication of alcohol and the havoc it wreaks on families, havoc that Bebe experienced firsthand in her own marriage. Harriet knows exactly how her grandmother feels about alcohol – even agrees with her – and yet still finds herself in jail for transporting illegal liquor. The story of how that came to be unfolds slowly throughout the novel, intermingled with stories of Grandma Bebe’s growing-up years and marriage to an alcoholic.
I have enjoyed Lynn Austin’s books in the past as a wonderful example of terrific writing in the Christian fiction publishing world. This isn’t one of her best books, however. I enjoyed the story and it kept me turning the pages, but often the conversations about Christianity and the difficulty of trusting God came across as a bit contrived and trite. I understood that the author was trying to show older women passing on their faith to the younger women in their lives – I just wish that this part of the book could have flowed more naturally.
One thing I did appreciate is that the author did not portray Prohibition as the answer to alcoholism. The women fighting for Temperance believed that outlawing the “demon rum” would mean that men would no longer have access to it and therefore stop drinking away the money they were supposed to be using to support their families. In hindsight, Prohibition did not curb the rates of alcoholism, but did give rise to organized crime. Austin did a good job of showing Grandma Bebe observing the way Prohibition didn’t turn out the way she and the other Temperance workers had expected.
Though this isn’t the best of her works, Austin is a gifted author. I would encourage you to try Hidden Places or Eve’s Daughters as some of her finer books.