Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review and Bonus Interview: Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers

About the book:

In the dramatic conclusion to the New York Times best seller Her Mother's Hope, Francine Rivers delivers a rich and deeply moving story about the silent sorrows that can tear a family apart and the grace and forgiveness that can heal even the deepest wounds.

Growing up isn’t easy for little Carolyn Arundel. With her mother, Hildemara, quarantined to her room with tuberculosis, Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma Marta, who moves in to care for the household. But as tensions between Hildie and Marta escalate, Carolyn believes she is to blame. When Hildie returns to work and Marta leaves, Carolyn and her brother grow up as latchkey kids in a world gripped by the fear of the Cold War.

College offers Carolyn the chance to find herself, but a family tragedy shatters her newfound independence. Rather than return home, she cuts all ties and disappears into the heady counterculture of San Francisco. When she reemerges two years later, more lost than ever, she reluctantly turns to her family to help rebuild a life for her and her own daughter, May Flower Dawn.

Just like Carolyn, May Flower Dawn develops a closer bond with her grandmother, Hildie, than with her mother, causing yet another rift between generations. But as Dawn struggles to avoid the mistakes of those who went before her, she vows that somehow she will be a bridge between the women in her family rather than the wall that separates them forever.

Spanning from the 1950s to present day, Her Daughter’s Dream is the emotional final chapter of an unforgettable family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter—and the very nature of unconditional love.

My thoughts:

Just when I think I've read the best that Francine Rivers has to offer, she surprises me with yet another fantastic novel!  I don't know how she does it, but her books always have a way of keeping me from doing anything else (eating, sleeping, get the picture) until I've finished the story.  Between this book and the one before it, I don't think I've read anything better in Christian fiction in all of 2010. 

I was anxious to see the continuation of Hildie's story from the first book, Her Mother's Hope.  After Her Mother's Hope left me hanging just a tiny bit regarding Hildie and her relationship with Marta, I absolutely did not expect Hildie to take on such a dramatic personality change, both with her relationship with her mother as well as her young daughter.  Not 40 pages into the book, my heart was already broken.  Carolyn, Hildie's daughter, visited a neighbor's house, and a parent's worst nightmare was the result.  Carolyn never spoke of these events to either of her parents until much later in her life, and after this incident, she and Hildie began to drift away from one another.  The only place Carolyn could find a confidante was with her grandmother, Marta.  Hildie was not crazy about this arrangement at all, but she let it go, and Marta practically filled in as a mother for Carolyn during her early years.

As the story progressed, Carolyn left home to go off to college, and met a girl there who was the life of the party.  This relationship also had a huge impact on Carolyn's life, and Carolyn ultimately felt responsible for her.  Then, due to some bad decisions by Carolyn and this friend, Carolyn's life was forever changed with the birth of May Flower Dawn.  What Carolyn didn't realize was that things were about to start looking a little bit familiar when it came to the women in her family tree.

I think the thing that blew me away more than anything in this novel were the secrets that everyone kept.  No one wanted to share there feelings for fear of what someone would think of them.  They didn't want to be honest with one another, and instead, chose to keep things bottled up inside.  Oh, what turmoil this caused everyone in the overall picture of their lives.  Their lives could have been so much different if they'd just sat down and talked things out.  It was at this point that May Flower Dawn really emerged as the glue that held this family together.  I don't want to get too ahead of things and spoil the story for anyone, but if Dawn had not been attentive to the voice of God, there would have been a never-ending generational problem that could've gone on for years and years.  Her resolve to restore her family, although it was one of the hardest things she had to do, really blessed my heart.

Her Daughter's Dream gets another HUGE 5-star rating from me just like Her Mother's Hope did a few months ago.  Both books challenged me to re-evaluate the relationships I have with both my mother and my grandmother.  Even though they're both 500+ pages each, I never noticed it.  In fact, I read each book in about a day.  You'd think that 2 books that cover a period of 50 years each would be too rushed, and not having much detail, but neither is a problem because Francine Rivers is such a skilled author.  As is the case with all of her other novels, both books in the Marta's Legacy series have earned a permanent place on my keeper shelf.  I have no clue what she has in store for her next novel, but I have to wonder if it will even possibly be able to compete!  So, run, drive, click, whatever, to your nearest bookstore, and bring these books home with will not regret it for a second!

Bonus Interview with Francine Rivers!!

Q:  How has exploring the relationship between your mother and grandmother helped you understand yourself?

A:  This is a question I would love readers to ask themselves at the end of Her Mother’s Hope. I realized early in the story that I have many of my grandmother and mother’s character traits, both good and bad. They both had tempers. So do I. They both had low self-esteem. I’m always striving to “measure up”. They both chose spouses who respected them. So did I. Both women had strong faith and servants’ hearts, something they encouraged in me. My mother extended grace to others -- a trait I want to cultivate to the end of my days. By holding onto her anger, Grandma lacked the peace and joy she could have had in her last years. I tend to relive past hurts. Writing about Marta made me decide to let go, forgive and move on. For whatever reason, Grandma couldn’t and missed out on so much joy in her last years. Sometimes people deeply hurt as children take offense where none was intended. Holding a grudge causes suffering, especially for the one who won’t let go. Jesus said to forgive one another as He has forgiven us. Forgiveness frees us, even if the other person refuses to join in the process of reconciliation. As I examine my own life, I see how much I’ve been forgiven. How can I not extend God’s grace to others? The best way to experience the fullness of God’s presence in my life is to surrender it to Him. And in that surrender, we are made more complete and joy-filled.

Q:  Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. What was the most difficult part of writing this family saga? What came the most naturally to you? 

A:  The most difficult part of writing any novel is getting out of my own way. I have to get rid of preconceived notions about themes and characters and plot. The first draft of this novel came in at over 1000 pages and was too biographical. I wanted the story to shift back and forth from present to past, trying to show what happened to create the rifts and valleys between Hildemara, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. I was too cautious, too afraid to harm to my grandmother and mother’s memory. 

A wonderful editor wrote me an insightful letter in which she listed what she wanted to know about each the characters. Her letter got my creative juices flowing. She helped me look at the story in a new way. I set the first manuscript aside and started over. I found it better to move from one generation to the next in a linear story. This time the characters followed my grandmother and mother’s timeline, but took on a life of their own. They became unique individuals rather than the shadow of real people. 

Q:  After readers finish this series what do you want them to remember? What questions and feelings do you want it to provoke on a spiritual and emotional level? 

A:  I hope and pray readers who have had difficult relationships with their mothers or daughters will let go of the pain and anger and allow God to work in their lives. God can work all things together for good for those who trust and love Him. Following Jesus’ example changes the way we see people. It changes the way we relate to one another. Even when the chasm is too deep to cross, we can decide to forgive. Some people wear grievances like a dirty coat. With God’s strength, we can strip it off and be free. When people finish reading Her Daughter’s Dream, I hope they will want to extend God’s grace and forgiveness. I hope they will tear down their walls and use their life experiences to begin building a bridge. 

Q:  Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM? 

A:  I would love for you to visit my web site at, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list. You may also join me on my Facebook page; please click here.

One more thing....don't leave yet!!

There are two giveaways being hosted for a free copy of Her Daughter's Dream.  Click either this link or this link for more information and to sign up for the chance to win!
**A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at for more information about blog tour management services.


  1. I have read Her Mother's Hope and really got into the story - I am looking forward to this next installment. Thanks for the great review and interview! You might also want to read a new book out called, "Rain Dance," by Christian author Joy DeKok. The story is moving, touching and unforgettable. The author does a wonderful job at crafting a story about a women who is infertile and another who has had an abortion, then weaves their lives together to show God's mercy and grace.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Audrey! Francine really outdid herself with both of these books...I've been recommending them right and left to everyone I know. :o)

    I won a copy of Rain Dance a few months ago, but haven't gotten to read it yet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. :o)

  3. I have this one on my shelf now and can't wait to read it! You are right that the books are huge but don't feel that big when you're reading. I also read book 1 in a day and was so moved. Just when I thought Francine Rivers couldn't out-do herself, she does!!


I love your comments!! They make me happier than cold sweet tea on a hot summer day! :o)