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Book Review: Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

I know Francine Rivers has been writing books for a while, but I only recently began reading her work. I read The Atonement Child right after Christmas and really liked it, so when I was at the library a week ago, I checked to see if they had any books by Rivers available. I found Her Mother’s Hope .

Her Mother’s Hope is an intimidating 498 page book. I figured it would take me a while to read. I was wrong. It was so good, I finished it in a weekend.

Her Mother’s Hope begins in Steffisburg, Switzerland, 1901. We meet Marta, a 12 year old girl, who desperately wants to make something of her life. She longs to go to University, but her father makes her drop out of school to begin training as a maid. Marta is determined not to become a servant and longs to break free of her father’s oppression.

Her mother, sick with consumption, encourages Marta to fly, to see the world. And that’s exactly what Marta does. She travels through Europe, and eventually to Canada and the United States. She works different jobs, learns three languages, and buys a boardinghouse. She gets married and has children.

Her first daughter, Hildemara, is small and weak. Afraid that Hildemara will become dependent and unable to stand on her own two feet, Marta is hard on her firstborn daughter. Marta believes she is encouraging her daughter to become independent. But how does Hildemara feel?

Halfway through the book, Rivers begins telling the story from Hildemara’s perspective. Hildemara believes her mother doesn’t love her, because she pushes her so hard. Hildemara longs to serve others and eventually goes into the nursing field, against her mother’s wishes.

When Hildemara marries and has children of her own, she gets sick and needs her mother’s help. Marta and Hildemara must face their differences and try to work out their problems.

Her Mother’s Hope is the story of a mother/daughter relationship gone sour. Told from the perspective of first the mother and then the daughter, Rivers beautifully illustrates how the love language of one can be terribly misinterpreted by another with a different love language. She also drives home the point that a lack of communication in any relationship can destroy bonds and create a chasm so deep, it seems impossible to cross.

Her Mother’s Hope, and the concluding book in the series, Her Daughter’s Dream, is loosely based on the story of Francine Rivers’ own family. The first book in the series spans nearly 50 years, and though the characters are fictional, the events surrounding the story are accurately representative of the time period.

I was drawn in by the characters Marta and Hildemara. They were both so different. At times I’d feel sympathy for one or the other, and at other times I was angry at their lack of communication. The most important thing, though, was that I found myself reflecting on my own style of mothering and wondering how I can do better with my own daughter, who is so different than I.

As I said before, once I began reading Her Mother’s Hope , I couldn’t put it down. And once I finished it, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the conclusion: Her Daughter’s Dream. Look for that review tomorrow!

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