Book review: Fingerprints of Grace

Fingerprints of Grace

by Claire-Louise Watson

Published 2017 by The Salvation Army (Australia)

Many who know me would be aware that I often promote the reading and study of God’s Word, the Bible. I have been devoted to those activities for most of my life – since my early 20s. Perhaps less well known is my love of reading in general, and more specifically, reading books, articles and magazines which enhance my spiritual walk through life. I have read widely a good range of authors on many topics. These books and articles are important in my development, informing me, challenging me and, at times, inspiring me.

I recently read this book which had a profound effect on me, not just because I read it only a short time after my wife’s passing, but also because I know the author. Fingerprints of Grace was written by Claire Watson. Claire and her husband Tim are Salvation Army Captains here in Murray Bridge.

This book traces Claire’s walk with God through her early life, her decisions about study, becoming a physiotherapist and the difficult choice she made between that life, and marrying Tim and following him into ministry in the Salvation Army. Always seeking God’s will for their ministry, they moved to Western Australia.

It was in WA that her biggest challenge in life came. Their marriage was blessed with Hannah, a sister for their two boys. During their time in Busselton, they had many wonderful times and experiences which were turned upside down when two and a half year old Hannah became seriously ill. It was a time of suffering for the whole family. To see a vibrant little girl, the delight of their lives, fade from life over a period in hospital, is heart-wrenching reading. If you have lost a dear family member to illness – or for any reason really – you know how desolate you feel.

In this very personal account, Claire relates her struggles with her role as a mother, struggles with her faith and struggles to come to terms with the diagnosis and ultimate end of such a precious little life. It is an easy read told with frank, honest writing in a way in which we can all relate. It has helped me in my personal journey through grief and loss, and it will abundantly bless any who read it.

Published by the Salvation Army it can be ordered through their website or through our own bookshop.

Highly recommended.


Book review: Return to me

Return to Me (#01 in The Restoration Chronicles Series)

Return To Me by Lynn Austin (Restoration Chronicles #1)

This was the first of Lynn Austin’s books I have read. It is the first of her trilogy in the Restoration Chronicles. Having read the first one, I am sure I will read the following two in the series. I am particularly interested in the third book which features the life of Nehemiah, one of my favourite people of the Bible. The book of Nehemiah is one of my favourites in all of the Bible.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will probably read more of her works in the future. This book is a fictional account of the first group of Jews to return to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon. It is very true to the historical Biblical account.

The main character of the story is Zechariah. The plot follows his early life growing up in Babylon with all of the hardships endured there, including the pressures to conform to the social moralities of the Babylonian culture and religion, including astrology. The sudden change on the part of King Cyrus is greeted with great joy by the Jews in captivity, and plans are immediately made for them to return to Jerusalem to begin life anew in their home country. The author cleverly portrays the family conflicts which arise, with families being torn apart, some remaining in Babylon, with others leaving for the long journey home.

The reader is given an in-depth impression of the physical hardships endured on the journey and the subsequent struggles to establish themselves in Jerusalem and in the surrounding countryside. The author never shirks from also drawing out in depth the spiritual pressures placed upon this band of people, especially the constant exposure to the paganism and astrology of the neighbouring Samaritans. The stark contrasts between the Jewish faith and the faith of other people living near Jerusalem is explored in many ways in the novel.

Zechariah features prominently in this account. Towards the end of the story we see him as the prophet whose book we read in the Old Testament. The author strongly portrays a young Zechariah in the early stages of his developing spirituality, and how he has a growing awareness of his special relationship with God. Austin never strays from showing the internal spiritual struggles of Zechariah, as well as his grandfather and mentor, Iddo.

I only have one little criticism: the frequent changes of point of view can take a little getting used to, but overall, this is a very well written and enjoyable account. The novel has one enduring strength: by being written as fiction, the author can draw each character in compelling and intriguing depth, while never losing sight of the facts of the historical foundations of the narrative.

Highly recommended.


PS I read this book on my eReader. You can order a copy through our bookshop.