Available to LTPL patrons via Overdrive and Libby app
Reviewed by Peggy Clore
Lynn Austin is well known for her inspirational historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. All Things New is set just after the Civil War, as the South recovers from bitter defeat. Since I grew up in the North, the Southern way of thinking became more real to me. It would be a new way of life for plantation owners who now lived in poverty, in destroyed homes, without food or clothing. Four years of war took many fathers, husbands, and sons. Former slaves struggled to decide how to provide for their families, and defeated whites believed their former slaves needed to be “kept in their place.” Some Southerners tried, in vain, to return to their old way of life.
The main character, Josephine Weatherly, though a plantation owner’s daughter, sees what must be done and willingly adapts to learning “slave” duties. She’s involved in providing education for former slave children. The Federal Freedman’s Bureau sends an agent, Alexander Chandler, to disperse provisions for all in need. Though he was a Union soldier, his Quaker faith led him to “love his enemies” by taking this government position to help Southerners. A major theme is about releasing bitterness and embracing forgiveness in order to move forward in a new way of life.