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*sigh* I just love pretty books.
My friend Stephanie got this book for me for my graduation (in..ahem…2013), and I’ve had it on my “To Read” shelf for far too long. Recently I decided to pick it up and get it read once and for all, and I’m very glad I did! Full of unique characters whose lives are intertwined in some very interesting (and unexpected) ways, this book is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. The story is old, but it was reprinted by Lamplighter Publishers. You can see it here.
I found the same book on Amazon cheaper, but since mine came from Lamplighter, I thought I would link their copy instead. The Lamplighter website states, “I would like to remind our readers that some of the original works have been edited to remove questionable or inappropriate language or content that does not reflect the character of a loving and just God. You can be confident that if you see our Lamplighter symbol on the spine, you can trust that it upholds a strong Christian worldview. If ever there is something of concern in one of our books, we welcome your comments. ~Mark Hamby” I’m not sure if Lamplighter’s version of The Hidden Hand received any editing or not, but just to be sure, I thought I should link the version I read.
I was very impressed with the book for many reasons. First, it is definitely centered around God, but not in an overbearingly religious way. While my primary aim in life is to serve God and I like to read books that carry out that worldview, I really appreciate when a book is written in such a way that Christians and non-Christians alike can enjoy it. I thought the author of The Hidden Hand did a really good job of including her beliefs in a tasteful way. Second, the book is a good example of well-written literature. I did catch a few punctuation errors here and there (which ought not to be in a published work…but it happens. I’m a little more forgiving now that I have a blog and do some writing of my own.). Third, the author did a great job of intricately winding together the lives of several multi-faceted characters, and she tied up all the loose ends at the end. I love books that intertwine different storylines, but good literature forbid that the author leaves a thread or two hanging and unfinished at the end. Fourth, there was a happy ending. I like happy endings.
Were there some fantastical elements to the story that are a little unbelievable in real life? Yeah. Do I mind? With the way the book was written, no. It was a good story, well-written, and it brought about many good moral points.
When I do book reviews, I hesitate to write too much about what the story actually entails because I don’t want to ruin anything for you if you decide to get the book and read it. So here’s my quick summary: a grumpy old man acquires an independently headstrong young ward, a young man seeks his fortune and falls in love, a rascally neighbor hires an outlaw to kill a few people, and in the end we find out that everyone knew everyone from before even if they didn’t know it, and the ones who weren’t related get married. How’s that for entertaining?
The book summary from Lamplighter says, “The rugged hills of western Virginia hid many secrets in the days of the Old South. Gruff, elderly gentlemen like Old Hurricane ruled their plantations like kings, and thieves preyed on unwary travelers. Secrets abound in this masterpiece by E.D.E.N. Southworth. You will be delighted and thrilled as God’s own hidden hand moves the lives of rascals and heroes alike to work His plan for good. Young Capitola begins life under a dark and mysterious cloud, but her fiery enthusiasm for life and adventure turns Old Hurricane and his entire plantation upside-down. Scalawags and saints beware; Capitola will capture your heart and run away with it.”