Monday, January 7, 2008
A novel of forbidden love, fanatical beliefs, and forgiveness, September Dawn by Carole Whang Schutter is a story that will stay with you long after you've read the last page.
Two nineteen-year-olds brought up with very different sets of beliefs fall in love, and nothing--not religion, not their families, not threat of danger--can keep them apart.
Fifty years after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the present day family sits down to retell the love story of Jonathan Samuelson and Emily Hudson. Jonathan is the son of a Mormon bishop, and Emily, the daughter of a Christian pastor. They are drawn together from the moment they meet, but suspicious and vengeful church leaders lead a massacre that forever separates the two lovers, and somewhere in the distant future, someone must learn to forgive what happened on that fatal day in September.
Traveling through different periods of time was the most challenging part of reading September Dawn. The story begins fifty years after the date of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but quickly goes back to two weeks before the massacre occurred to show the reader how the people of the wagon train met up with the Mormons in Utah. The story continues to travel through time, going back and forth between present day and the two weeks the wagon train remained Utah, and moving further back in time to earlier dates important in Mormon Church history to provide the reader with a well-rounded idea of how the Church was formed and what led to the Mormons' distrust of the Gentiles. With all this back story, it is easy to lose the true focus of the novel--which is the unfolding relationship between Jonathan and Emily. I believe this format is much better suited to the film version of this story where the visual aspect of events can help keep the viewer involved.
Once the back story was out of the way, September Dawn engaged me so deeply that I never wished to put it down. And the ending was so moving and unexpected, that I couldn't help but cry.
Overall, this is an excellent read. As a lover of history, I enjoyed getting that full picture of what led up to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but the parts I enjoyed most dealt with Jonathan and Emily's fierce love for one another that survived many years after the horrible events that separated them.
With September Dawn Carole Whang Schutter brings you a love story that surpasses all odds and touches upon the power of forgiveness.
Title: September Dawn
Author: Carole Whang Schutter
ISBN: 978-1-4343-0022-5 (sc)