Angelina County, Texas, in 1886, is a troubled stew of resentments, but Deborah Vandermark, heroine of Tracie Peterson’s new novel, seems to have her life well in hand – she is studying medicine with handsome doctor Christopher Caldwell, with whom a deepening relationship promises a good life ahead. Devout and calm, Deborah is deeply involved in the spiritual and social life of her community, her thoughts about God a constant comfort at difficult moments.
Things go wrong, of course, but in the end, things go right. All this is very reassuring. Still, novels are made of characters, and characters, to be interesting, have to have flaws – even, dare I say it, be a little bad now and then. There are engaged and engaging novels about the Christian life – Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead comes immediately to mind – but Hearts Aglow is not one of them.