Thursday, December 5, 2013

My 5* Review of Evelyn's Anxious Bench by Allison Kohn

For lovers of historic fiction researched to the nine's "Evelyn's Anxious Bench" takes the reader on a unique journey as the Jonathan Baker's family, used to being waited on hand and foot makes the difficult journey from Maryland through the Oregon Trail to finally arrive in the Willamette Valley without the assistance of those slaves who made life, according to Evelyn, "Bearable." Author, Allison Kohn has wisely set this tail in a primitive and demanding land, and juxtaposed what the sojourners are used to, with what they need to learn to survive. Upon this canvas, we discover that the lessons presented to this clan are the very ones we in the 21st century would be wise to learn from. "Can fiction teach us how to make our life better?" you might ask. My resounding answer is, "In this case absolutely!" Walk in the shoes of these erstwhile pioneers who press on because the head of the family insists they do and see what befalls them as they travel the Bear River. The passage is so well written that for a moment, I heard the roar and smelled the fragrant air.

For those armchair pioneers, for those who long to go but fear losing the comforts of home and hearth, a harrowing journey awaits replete with history, and the bonding together through loss of comfort to the building a new life and town in the west. You'll experience the hardships, feel the loss of loved ones, and experience the pain and suffering that were daily occurrences in the 1800's. And hopefully, you'll come away from this novel thanking God, or your lucky star that you live in this century rather than that one. I do believe once you've read the last word, you'll find yourself rejoicing in the journey, glad to be safely at home, yet well aware that the read has equipped you to continue here better equipped than you were before because this fiction is much more than that! Thank you, Allison Kohn for using this story to show us more than we ever expected.

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