I’ve heard people rave for years about Francine Rivers, but never picked up one of her books. After reading Her Mother’s Hope, I now know why she’s so popular.
Her Mother’s Hope is the first in a two-book saga that begins at the turn of the 20th century in a small town in Switzerland and spans many decades and countries.
Marta Schneider, a determined, strong young lady, lives with her father’s poor and unfair treatment of her. While he favors her older brother and weak younger sister, Marta can’t seem to do anything right. She can’t figure out why he doesn’t seem to love her. He tells her that her only value is in being a servant someday. But she has a dream to run her own business and be independent. Thankfully, her mother’s love and faith in God gives her strength.
Marta also watches as her mother “babies” her younger sister, Elise, keeping her dependent and fearful, which proves to be detrimental in the long run.
Once Marta escapes her abusive home, she takes jobs learning housekeeping and cooking. Via England and France, she eventually makes her way to the United States where she opens her own boarding house. When Niclas Waltert takes one of the rooms, Marta falls in love with him and they marry. They move across the country, to Canada and finally settle in California. In the midst of their travels, they start a family.
The second part of the book focuses on Marta and her relationship with her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, as seen through Hildemara’s eyes. In her determination to make sure that her timid daughter doesn’t turn out like her sister, Elise, Marta is very hard on Hildemara. The only clue to how much she really loves and admires her daughter is in the letters she writes to her old friend in Switzerland. From Hildemara’s point of view, her mother doesn’t love her and is disappointed in her.
Hildemara realizes her own dreams of becoming a nurse. She meets a wonderful man, marries him and they start their own family. When tragedy strikes, Marta finally realizes her mistakes and vows to make things right with her daughter.
One can’t help but notice the similarities between Marta’s relationship with her father and Hildemara’s relationship with her. Marta’s father was very harsh with her, never showing love or considering what was in her best interest. Hildemara felt as though her mother, who always seemed to be disappointed in her, treated her very unfairly. I found myself cringing at the way Marta was acting towards Hildemara and wondering why she couldn’t see that she was acting just like her father.
While Marta felt that she needed to be hard on Hildemara to make her strong, she failed to see that Hildemara was already strong in her own way. It was just different from Marta’s strengths. Marta couldn’t see that Hildemara had a different disposition and temperament than her and had many beautiful qualities. When she finally realizes that, it’s almost too late to repair the relationship.
Francine Rivers weaves a beautiful and sometimes painful portrayal of a mother and daughter and the struggles and miscommunication they often experience. It’s fascinating to see the same situation from two different perspectives. She also does a wonderful job of showing the reader what Marta’s life is like and skillfully transitions to Hildemara’s story.
The story captured my interest from the first page and I spent every free minute after that reading until I finished the book. Ms. Rivers is able to tell the story of a realistic, simple faith in God, without sounding preachy or unrealistic. My only complaint is that I have to wait for the second book in the series to come out!