Author/s: Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 0764211196 **Why is this important?
As a young adult, I was thrilled to work for a Christian bookstore as a music buyer. I think most of the employees were lovers of good fiction and we had the opportunity to read any and all of the books on the shelf. I loved giving personal recommendations about different kinds of fiction and of course recommend my favorite authors.
Award winning author, Tracie Peterson, who writes historical fiction, often with romantic and suspense threads, was and continues to be an author that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction.
I read All Things Hidden on my Kindle which is honestly not my favorite way to read fiction, but it didn’t slow me down. I just prefer to be able to thumb back to pages to reference a fact or a conversation and that simply isn’t as easy to do with an e-reader. That said, I greatly enjoyed this book almost as much as any other Tracie Peterson books I have read in the past. All Things Hidden is set in Alaska in what is now called the MatSu Valley where the current day cities of Wasilla and Palmer reside. I love that Peterson writes about areas of the US and Canada that particularly at that date in time were a bit more wild than the rest of North America. Peterson and Woodhouse describe the area of the MatSu valley beautifully and I quickly found myself imagining the beautiful place as if I was there.
All Things Hidden follows Gwyn Hillerman and her doctor-father, Harold during the settling of the Matanuska Colony in Alaska as part of FDR’s New Deal. Gwyn struggles with fear and is unsettled at the thought of so much change coming to the beautiful valley and the only home that she has ever known. Gwyn is also strongly affected by the words and actions of her mother from the past and the ultimate feeling of betrayal when her mother and sister left Alaska to return to their previous affluent trappings in Chicago where Gwyn’s father was once a well known doctor. Gwyn stayed in Alaska to work beside her father and because of her love for the Matanuska valley and it’s indigenous people, especially her best friend, Sadzi, and Nasnana, Sadzi’s grandmother. Nasnana has had a great influence on Gwyn’s life and is a great encouragement to her as she tries to put fear to death.
Jeremiah Vaughan is a doctor in Chicago whose life has been turned upside down when he loses his licence to practice medicine and his fiancee in the same day. He sees the opportunity to start fresh with a move to Alaska to work with his former mentor Dr. Harold Hillerman. Jeremiah desperately hopes life will be better there for him and that the secrets of his repealed medical licence and the identity of his former fiancee in Chicago will remain a secret.
The story takes on another strand when a detective in Chicago is out to solve one of the biggest bank robberies in recent history and a villainous character makes his way to the Matanuska Colony along with the other settlers. I’ll be honest, at first I could have done without this strand of the story, but towards the end I found myself quite involved in it as much as the rest of the story.
I always love how Peterson incorporates the Gospel and/or growing in sanctification in the her books. Not all Christian fiction authors get the Gospel right, but Peterson has proven to do so again and again in her books. Here, Gwyn is learning to put fear to death and trust the sovereign plan of God, regardless of the how and the why.
I liked different elements of this book, but I especially loved the excellent way in which the authors used fiction to tell about a very real time in history and how they used real people to highlight parts of this fictional story. I love history and Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse did an exceptional job researching for this book. The chapters consistently left me wanting to read “just one more”. As I have found with other works of Peterson, I devoured this book in record time. If I’m going to be honest though, I think the characters were lacking a bit. Both Gwyn and Jeremiah spend a lot of time in their thoughts which left me wanting more in the way of interaction and character development. I realize that in life changes come slowly, but if in fiction character development is too slow, the reader will lose interest. A lot of my eagerness for each next chapter was wanting to know if these characters would ever say and become more than that of their redundant character themes clearly issued early on in the book. This was not my most favorite book by Peterson, but she is an author who is generally very consistent, so this will not affect my opinion of her as an author. My enjoyment of this book was definitely more dependent on the historical elements and less on that of the romance. I am hoping Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse will write a sequel if not an entire series to go with this work. I see the opportunity for several other characters to be explored further and Alaska, well, that frontier has much more of which can be discovered! I hope that in any sequels or companion pieces, they will give the romantic elements as much depth as they do the historical elements.
All in all, if you enjoy historical fiction, I think you will also enjoy this book. If you’re wanting to read something for historical romance, this wouldn’t be my recommendation, but Peterson has others that would more than fit the bill for you.
**While not necessarily needed when ordering a book on-line, if you order a book through brick and mortar bookstore, they may ask you for the book’s ISBN number which they use when ordering from their distributor**.