About the Book
Book: Flame of Mercy
Author: Eleanor Bertin
Genre: Contemporary Christian
Release date: November, 2021
Two families, worlds apart. Can they each find hope in the crucible of suffering?
All Lynnie Min ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. But when tragedy strikes her family, she’s left with nothing but her faith to begin life again. While pursuing a career she never wanted, can the precious faith she was raised on withstand betrayal by a hostile former friend, now a professor whose ideologies conflict with her own? And why do her puzzling dreams feature only one of her daughters, not both?
Out of a smoking ruin in northern Nigeria, Ihsan bin Ibrahim stumbles upon the solution to his wife’s barrenness and longing. But family ties have a long reach. Will he make the ultimate sacrifice to follow his conscience, even if it means losing the child he loves?
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About the Author
From her home in central Alberta, Canada, Eleanor Bertin writes fiction that ponders the depths of God’s love and mercy to humanity.
She is the author of The Ties That Bind series, Lifelines, Unbound, and Tethered, as well as the memoir, Pall of Silence, about her late son, Paul. She lives with her husband of more than 40 years and their youngest son, in what will someday be a beautiful century home. www.eleanorbertinauthor.com
More from Eleanor
If you’ve read any amount of secular fiction these days, you must be shuddering at the landscape of the family in the world today. Strife and resentment, rivalry and spite–seems there’s nothing but dysfunction as far as the eye can see. And while conflict is necessary to any novel’s plot, I wanted to write about a stable family, a loving family, one that, while imperfect, still nurtured and protected its members with acceptance and harmony.
On top of that, I wanted to depart from my previous novels where the main characters were not believers. In Flame of Mercy, Lynnie is the main character whose trust in Jesus stands firm despite going through the fires of adversity. Her family is one of the reasons for that strength.
But of course, even the best, most faithful families have their quirks. Enter the grandmothers. Grandma Hardy is stiff, stilted, and staunch in her Christian beliefs. Nanny Roundell is sugar-loving, jolly, and lets mentions of faith slide off her chubby body with a smile. Their beliefs do not align with their personae. This paradox was suggested to me by a friend as I described the contrast between two elderly relatives, sweet Christian and sour unbeliever.
“Aren’t you glad it’s not the other way around?” she asked.
Because we all know it can be. Sometimes Christians look nothing like their Lord. And non-Christians can live blissfully inconsistent with their evil master’s agenda.
And so, I had fun writing these two ladies! “The grandmothers sat next to each other, one short and round, one tall and skinny. The Ball and Bat, we used to call them when we were kids, and I’d never been able to see them differently ever since. Come to think of it, Nanny, the Ball, was like a baseball in other ways besides physical. She had always been reactionary, flung here and there with every wind of doctrine but without any viewpoint of her own. By contrast, Grandma Hardy was the Bat. She stood alone, stiff and sturdy, unwavering, and if necessary, could give you a good whack to get you moving in the right direction.
“My sister was what Grandma frowningly called ‘frivolous.’ And Lissa was mischievous enough to purposely do things that would get Grandma’s goat. I mean, deliberately cavorting through the sprinkler in a bikini directly in front of Grandma’s kitchen window was outright asking for a lecture. You couldn’t call it a scolding since Grandma never raised her voice, but it was always a one-way communication generously salted with Bible verses. Lissa told me Grandma even referred to hand-written notes a couple of times while talking to her. And Grandma’s tone carried the expectation that we would change our ways accordingly. We had been taught to respect our elders so there was no answering back. We only meekly listened.” With Grandma, there was no statute of limitations and past sins could receive present censure.
Nanny’s eyes twinkled. “I’m feeling better every day. It’s given me my life back. Why, with my dentures and glasses, a new knee, and a titanium hip, I’m eighty percent fake.” She cackled her infectious laugh and we joined in, exchanging glances. Being in Nanny’s presence infallibly lifted my spirits.
“This cheesecake is delicious, Sue,” Nanny chimed in. “I could keep on eating and eating if I weren’t already so full after an excellent meal.”
Grandma frowned at what she doubtless saw as gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins. Thankfully she restrained herself this time…She set her fork down beside her plate that still held half her slice of cheesecake and taking her napkin, dabbed at her lips. “This is certainly a rich dessert.”
I hope you enjoy reading about the Hardy family’s faith and foibles as much as I have in writing them. Look for a bit of Grandma’s back story in my story in this year’s Mosaic Christmas anthology.
I was not prepared for the emotional depth this book would take me to. It reached far more into my soul than I have ever felt. I had to really look at myself and wonder if I was guilty of judging others because of their ethnicity, their job choices or even their choice of religion. The author gave me a look into the lives of women who wanted to be mothers while others wanted a career. How often have we looked at a woman whose desire was to stay home and raise children and think that they could be so much more? Being a mother is something I have always wanted but I think at times I may have put my ministry or job before that.
Lynnie is such a simple character in the respect that she is grieving a great loss. But as the author unwraps her thinking and emotion we see that there is so much more to Lynnie. I can not say that I know what it feels like to lose a child or husband, but the author helps me connect with Lynnie by seeing her pain and broken heart. How does she pick up the pieces of her life and start over? Following with her children and husband to do missionary work was suppose to be meaningful. Now she faces loneliness, pain and memories of a family she once had. I loved following her journey as she decides to be a social worker and how one paper she reads in front of the class changed the thoughts of many. I loved that she was strong in her faith even when faced with two grandmothers from different outlooks on life. The dynamics of Lynnie’s family is grounded in the most important thing which is unconditional love and faith.
We also follow two other characters who are part of Lynnie’s story. Out of the ashes of a tragedy a child emerges to be rescued by Ihsan in Nigeria. This child who should have died in the flames has been found and sets in motion changes for both Ihsan and his wife. They have suffered for years with miscarriage after miscarriage. Now they believe this child was sent to them to raise. You can tell that Daniya has found hope through this child. I loved how they both embraced the child even though it looked different from them. For awhile everything seemed to go well until Daniya takes the child with her to the village . Oh how I cried when the people verbally attacked the child and caused Daniya to flee home. The fear that this child would be taken away is their greatest worry.
The story is one where we see different cultures and experience racism. I kept thinking about something that was said in the book. We each believe in something and when we hear about another religion that does things differently we judge them and have angry thoughts about their religion. This book brought out how different we each are and how we condemn others if they don’t believe the way we do. I loved how the author illustrates how a child gave hope to many. When we all are able to accept each other without judgment then we will find a place where love abounds unconditionally.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, November 18
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Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, November 24 (Author Interview)
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To celebrate her tour, Eleanor is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.