Calm Before the Storm
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Calm Before the Storm
Author: Janice L. Dick
Series: The Storm Series
Major Themes: Russia, Russian Revolution, Mennonites, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, World War I History, Europe, Books for Women, Inspirational Fiction
Synopsis: As storm clouds appear on the horizon in Russia, Katarina just wants things to stay the same—and Johann wants adventure.
Stories about the Russian Mennonites are almost guaranteed to catch my attention. From when I was in my mid-teens, my family had friends who came from that culture, although they had emigrated to Mexico, Texas, and then Canada long before we met them. Calm Before the Storm sounded quite interesting, as it is set among the Mennonites in Russia on the eve of the Russian Revolution. I have read several books from Mennonite publishers about these people, but this is the first one I came across that was not published in that setting.
Three young people’s lives separate and intertwine through the course of this book. Johann, who is coming of age in the Molotschna Colony in Russia, is feeling quite restless and wants to see more of the world. His friend Paul, a Russian youth, wants to see the world, too—and change it. And Katarina, whose family lives on an estate in the Crimea, just wants everything to remain the same, and be peaceful.
Through an unexpected accident, Johann finds himself invited to the estate in the Crimea to be a tutor to Katarina’s younger brother and sister—and he immediately falls in love with her beautiful other sister, Maria. When he travels to Petrograd with Katarina’s father Heinrich to plead with the government to reconsider the edicts that have been made against the German people living in Russia, here in the early years of World War I, Maria is the one he constantly thinks about. Heinrich and Johann are quite disturbed by what they see and hear about while in the capitol city. What is to become of Russia? Paul seems to be in the thick of things, which is also disturbing.
As I read this book, I had to think about what our world is facing right now. There seem to be a lot of similarities. I thought the author did a very good job of bringing history to life and showing how ordinary people, both the Mennonites and the Russians, viewed each other, the government, and the events in the world at large. There are so many threads woven together in this story! There is the relationship of Johann, Katarina, and Maria. There is Johann’s friend Susannah, whom he left behind when he went to the Crimea. There is Katarina’s brother Peter, whose mind is not normal and who needs special help. There is Paul and the Bolsheviks he is part of. There is the natural side of things, with war swirling around and injured soldiers to care for, as well as the farm to run and crops to harvest. And, there is the spiritual side, with men of God preaching the truth and people accepting or rejecting what they hear. Calm Before the Storm is a book that is well worth reading and I hope I get the chance to read the sequel!
I received a free copy of this book from the author, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Besides the general horrors of war, which are mentioned in several chapters, Chapter 24 tells in detail about the murder of Rasputin.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Russia, Russian Revolution, Mennonites, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, World War I History, Europe, Books for Women, Inspirational Fiction