Book Review: For Time and Eternity, Forsaking All Others
May 5, 2012 in: Book Reviews
This two-book series is some of the most powerful fiction I have read in a long time, perhaps ever.
I picked up the first book For Time and Eternity when it was offered free on Kindle. It tells the story of Camilla Deardon Fox, living in Iowa when the Mormon wagon trains moved through on their way to Utah. Used to living under the strict hand of her father, Camilla becomes fascinated with the friendly people who have camped at the edge of their property. Her heart is quickly stolen by Nathan Fox, a young man who has become a devout convert to Mormonism. When the choice comes to choose between her father and Nathan, young Camilla follows her heart.
Life with the close-knit Mormon community and her husband is blissful at first. They have two daughters, then their infant son dies a few hours after birth. In her grief, Camilla questions some Mormon teachings. While Nathan is away from home serving to build the temple in Salt Lake City, she rediscovers the faith of her childhood and determines to teach her daughters the Bible.
Camilla believes it may be possible to surrender her heart to Jesus and also be in submission to her husband. Until Nathan introduces a woman that he intends to make his wife. As Camilla becomes increasingly ostracized in the community and even her own home, she grows closer to the Lord.
For Time and Eternity ended with such a cliffhanger, I immediately purchased the sequel, Forsaking All Others on my Kindle. I read it within 48 hours in three big bites, which is highly unusual for me.
This book begins with Camilla being rescued by the U.S. Army, which is in Utah fighting the Mormon War. She makes an effort to reconcile with her extended Mormon family, as well as her husband and children. This indecision was realistic and underscored the pain of choosing between the truth of the gospel and the love of the most important people in a person’s life. Shunned by her parents and now her church and own husband, Camilla is truly alone. With assistance from an Army Corporal, Camilla returns to Iowa to see her dying father. As her faith and strength are restored, she must make life-changing decisions for her and her children. And she must call upon the strength to follow through.
Several reasons why this series grabbed hold of me: The characters were real and gripping. As narrator, Camilla occasionally stepped out of the story, which usually grates on my nerves, but under Pittman’s hand, it made her feel more real, like I was sitting at her bedside as she retold her life story.
This series also tackled Mormonism head on and the deception that its followers live under. While giving credit to their rich history and attributes of community and hard work, it did not flinch from the errors in theology. Pittman, in an interview in the back of the book, describes that she grew up in Utah and her husband is an ex-Mormon, so she is familiar with the culture. I am impressed with her and with Tyndale for holding forth the truth in their publishing.
Most of all, the story showed that following Christ can be costly. Too often, Christian fiction creates the perception that if a person simply trusts God, everything works out. And you fall madly in love. I agonized with Camilla as she faced unthinkable choices. And thrilled with her as she found that she could live without anything – except Jesus.
Although this series was two books, each one was relatively short and it felt more like one book in two volumes. Forsaking All Others also ended with a cliffhanger, causing me to wonder if a third book was planned. Pittman stated there will not be another book at the publisher’s decision. She also said the first book will always be her most important novel. Thank you, Allison, for writing it.