Friday, February 3, 2017

1940s Mennonites in China & beyond: A review of Janice L. Dick's novel IN A FOREIGN LAND

Having a Mennonite background much like author Janice L. Dick's, I was fascinated with her earlier book OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER. It's about a group of Mennonites who escape Soviet Russia and reach China in 1930.


IN A FOREIGN LAND picks up their story in 1945. It focuses on the son of a Mennonite couple whose trials and adventures the author featured in the earlier book.


The young man in question is Danny Martens. He tries hard to be the man of the family after Communists forcibly take his father away, along with other men originally from the Soviet Union.


Danny faces persistent threats and persecution from his parents' long-time enemy Senior-Major Leonid Dubrowsky. Other challenges include trying to manage the family farm and grappling with his wavering faith in the teachings of his Mennonite family and community. His biggest challenge is trying to get his family to North America, following the wishes of his father.


Throw in a growing interest in his young Lutheran neighbor Rachel Giesinger and you have the ingredients of a crackling good story. I especially like the evocative picture she paints of life in China at the time. I felt as if I was really there.


Elma Schemenauer, author of the 1940s-era Mennonite novel CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS.


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