Book Review: The Messenger

30 Jul

But Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah’s world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him–and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

Fun Information About The Messenger

Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

Her tenth novel, The Messenger follows prior Bethany House releases: A Constant Heart (October 2008), Love’s Pursuit (June 2009), She Walks in Beauty (Apr 2010), and A Heart Most Worthy (Mar 2011)

She Walks in Beauty won the inaugural INSPY Award for Historical Fiction in Dec 2010. Three of Siri’s novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door,and She Walks in Beauty were Christy Award finalists. Love’s Pursuit was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award.

My Impressions:

The Messenger is the third novel I have read by Siri Mitchell.  While not my favorite (that one is She Walks in Beauty), it is a well written and researched historical set in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War.  There were so many things I learned during my time spent with characters Hannah and Jeremiah — about the British occupation, the treatment of rebel prisoners and the stance of the Quakers.  This is what a great historical novel should do; entertain and inform.  Mitchell again produces a factually based novel that makes you care about the characters and believe that you are right there in the midst of the action.

Hannah is the least likely spy ever.  To start she is a Quaker, a faith she takes very seriously.  Her Meeting (the local gathering of Quakers or Friends) has decided that the prisoners in the newly built jail should suffer the consequences of their rebellion. But when her twin brother is imprisoned she is persuaded by Jeremiah Jones to visit the jail and pass messages.  Hannah is confronted with the abominable treatment  by the British and takes on even more than passing messages.  She smuggles in digging implements, food and other provisions.  Her vow not to lie is tested, yet she follows her convictions.  Often exasperated and confounded by Hannah’s resolve to follow God’s leading, Jeremiah comes to admire and care about her.

The Messenger is a spy novel.  Yet it is so much more.  Hannah is faced with following God’s leading and going against the dictates of her family and her Meeting.  Hannah’s struggle will make you think about what is more important — people or rules.  Jeremiah is a great character as well.  Wounded in both body and mind, he struggles with bitterness and revenge.  But Hannah’s example leads him to examine his decisions and motives.  She makes him want to be a better person.

If you like historical novels, romance and/or the Revolutionary War period, check out The Messenger.


(I received The Messenger from Bethany House in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

3 Responses to “Book Review: The Messenger”

  1. Siri July 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. Thanks for taking the time to write and post a review!

    • rbclibrary July 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks for writing great historical fiction. And for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Barbara H. August 10, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    I was just looking at this book yesterday, I think maybe the audiobook version, trying to decide on it. I’ve read others of Siri’s novels and loved them. I like the way she blends historical detail into the stories naturally. Thanks for the background info., too — I hadn’t realized she had written four books before getting one published. I’m glad she persevered!

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