Somehow I never read Grace Livingston Hill, even though her books were very popular with young women when I was in my teens and twenties. I thought of them as clean, sweet romance novels. Though most fiction will include romance, no matter the genre, I prefer novels with more to them.
But recently I finished my audiobook and wouldn’t receive a new credit for my next book til the end of the month. I scrolled through Audible’s selections that are included free with membership. I found a couple of Hill’s books there, so decided to give them a try.
The first was titled The Search. Ruth Macdonald is a society girl whose life consists of parties and outings with friends. When WWI starts, Ruth helps in ways that ladies of her class did: making bandages, knitting socks and sweaters for soldiers. etc. Some of her male friends became officers. But the magnitude and meaning of the war didn’t really sink in until she accidentally came upon a group of people seeing draftees off. There Ruth saw an old classmate, John Cameron, who was not of her “set,” but who had done her a kindness when they were children. Ruth is struck by his tender good-bye to his weeping mother and his brave, resolute face. Their eyes met for a brief moment.
Ruth decides to write to John as a friend to tell him she still remembered what he did for her so long ago and to express her appreciation for his part as a soldier. She writes that she hadn’t really thought of the sacrifice young men were making until she saw him.
John is touched by Ruth’s letter, and they begin corresponding regularly. When John gets leave to come home, he asks to visit Ruth.
But then he learns that an old enemy plans to marry Ruth. Could Ruth really love someone like that?
Then this old enemy becomes an officer in John’s company and makes his life miserable.
As John knows he must be prepared for death when his company leaves for France, he tries to search for God. His home minister is not much help. But someone he meets on base gives him a New Testament, and various contacts along the way shed light. But somehow he still doesn’t comprehend.
He tells Ruth about his search, and she realizes that, even though she has been in church all her life and been a “good” girl, she doesn’t really know God either. She embarks on a search of her own.
Hill’s style and tone seemed very similar to Louisa May Alcott and D. E. Stevenson, though Hill is more overtly Christian. Hill’s lifetime was between the other two ladies, overlapping them each by a few decades.
I enjoyed the story quite a lot and wished I had read them in my younger years.
A Kindle version of the book is currently available for 99 cents.