Caldwell (The Distant Land of My Father) draws from the biographies of missionaries in northern China during the turbulent first half of the 20th century in this mixed second novel. It traces the story of two young, hopeful Midwesterners—shy, bright Oklahoma farmer Will Kiehn and brave Cleveland deaconess Katherine Friesen—as they journey to the brink of China's civil war in the isolated town of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng: the "City of Tranquil Light." In the unforgiving "land of naught," they live the joys and perils of missionary life, including famine, spiritual rejection, the dramatic 1926 rise of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang, and the forcible, often violent, exile of fellow missionaries. Throughout the unrelenting hardship, the remarkably stable couple remain in China, bound to their newfound roots and to the ideals of their larger mission. At times this novel seems more about rhetoric than relationships—the couple's unwavering dedication to each other and their mission is unbelievable at times—but Katherine's diary entries are emotionally deft, capturing the romance and anxiety of cultural estrangement. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/2010 Release date: 09/01/2010 Genre: Fiction
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