Choosing to review this book was one of the cases where I recognized the author's name, but I couldn't remember the books of hers I had read. I sometimes choose those with trepidation because I can't really remember if I liked the book or not.
What Once Was Lost is historical fiction, set in the late 1800s in a small town in Kansas. The story centers around a poor farm and its administrator, Christina Willems. When the poor farm kitchen burns, the residents and Christina are displaced. Christina is burdened with her responsibility for the residents, but it seems as if things keep going wrong as she tries to have the farm repaired and the residents all back together.
There were things about this book I really liked. I liked the historical setting. I thought the idea- a poor farm and its residents- was a good one. (By the way, a poor farm is a place where people who are destitute or without other family or means can stay. I didn't recognize the term.) Christina made a good main character. She was strong and able but needed to learn dependence on God and the wisdom of seeking help from others. Levi- the main male character- was also compelling. The lessons that these characters and others learn throughout the book were important spiritual lessons, and the were communicated well without the book being "preachy."
Despite the things I did like, I had a hard time plugging along through this one. It was rather lengthy because there were so many stories going on at one time. Sometimes in an epic sort of novel, I can appreciate this. Here it just seemed to make the book longer. The side stories seemed to take away from the main story of the rebuilding of the farm and the relationship of Christina and Levi so that the main story seemed rather choppy. I would read along and think a very long time must have passed only to realize that a day or two should have gone by. And sometimes I would think the action was being picked up on that very day or close to it only to find out days had passed. The action was rather choppy.
It's not a short, quick read. If you enjoy the multiple story lines, it may be worth the read. I give it 3.5 stars and a PG rating for content.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.