The Shepherd of Salm
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Shepherd of Salm
Author: Joanna F. Martin
Major Themes: France, French Revolution, Amish, Anabaptists, Family Read-Alouds, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Living, 18th Century History, Inspirational Fiction
Synopsis: The Taufer, or Anabaptist, congregations on the border of France clung to their faith in God to see them through the tumult of the French Revolution.
Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre of stories—or at least a close second to a well-written memoir. The Shepherd of Salm appealed to me when I saw it because I have never read much about the Anabaptists in Europe after the Reformation, and certainly nothing about the ones in France. I ordered this book when I had the chance, and my 8-year-old recently chose it for me to read aloud. I’m really not sure how much he understood of it, though. His purpose for choosing it was to compete with his brother who likes me to read very long books aloud—this one is long, too!
Christian was a member of a Taufer, or Baptist, congregation in the Principality of Salm-Salm (this group was the same as the Amish in America). This peace-loving, wehrlos (or defenseless), people lived their lives quietly on the mountain, making their own living and helping those around them as they could. Paris, the capital of France, which had annexed Salm, seemed far away and did not affect their lives. However, that changed suddenly when the French Revolution broke out.
Neighbor Jacques became quite involved with the Revolution, and tried to drag everyone else into it. His son François, the herd boy for the Taufers, seemed to desire something other than the violence he saw in his father. Could Christian somehow help the boy to a better life?
As the violence escalated in Paris, the Taufers carried on with their daily life the best they could, and Christian married the love of his life. The young couple faced a great challenge when Jacques set on fire the house Christian and Anna shared with her parents. They also faced a challenge when Christian was chosen to be a minister. God was always faithful, however, even when Christian and a few other men found themselves going to Paris to plead with the revolutionary leaders to allow the Taufer to be exempt from military duty. The men went, not knowing if they would ever return home.
This book is a vivid account of a very troubled time in European history. I have read a few books about the French Revolution, but never one from a nonresistant Christian perspective—I doubt if there are any others like this one! For a unique perspective on history, read The Shepherd of Salm. You will be challenged in your faith. We found this well-documented story very interesting.
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Keywords: France, French Revolution, Amish, Anabaptists, Family Read-Alouds, Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Christian Living, 18th Century History, Inspirational Fiction