Having been raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints, I am very familiar with its history. Still, I enjoy reading stories about the early saints and the trials they had to endure. I've also been drawn to the UK as my father's family came from a small town outside of Bristol, England. So, when I got the chance to review a book that featured these two areas, I was excited to do so.
All that was promised takes place in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales in 1847. Reverend Richard Kenyon is the leader of a Methodist church in the area. His brother, Rodger, continued with the family business, while Richard felt a higher calling. Early in the book, Richard meets Ben Lachlan, a missionary from America sent to Wales. Ben is there to teach the people of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Richard finds himself drawn to this missionary, and he converts, much to the chagrin of his wife and many others in the town. Over time, more people join, but just as there are forces of good at work here, there are those who would try to stop it.
Enter in one John Morgan (which happens to be my father's name--and hopefully no relation to this character) who seeks out to destroy the church. What happens next is often heartbreaking, sometimes infuriating, but also, faith promoting. When you know something is right, it is amazing what you'll put up with.
It seemed to me that Hall did her research on this project. Everything fit into the time frame perfectly and seemed very plausible. I like how she included words and various customs and foods from the time period. It's those little details that help give credibility to a book.
Overall I enjoyed the book. As a fellow author, I know how hard it is to write a novel, so over all, I applaud Vickie Hall on her accomplishment.
There were a few minor things I struggled with in the book. First, it seemed people tended to embrace or fight against the Mormon church fairly quickly. Now, as a member myself, I get that. Once you've received an answer to your prayers through the power of the Holy Ghost, it's something you can't deny. However, for those that haven't experienced that, I can see them doubting that some people were too quick to join. For that reason, I think current members of the LDS church will understand, but others may find it hard to believe.
The second thing that tripped me up a bit was that the book was written in third person, but would often jump from person to person in the same scene. Example, at the start of a scene we may be in Richard's head, experiencing what he is experiencing. A few sentences later, we may be in Ben's head, seeing things from his point of view. Because we didn't stay with one character for any length of time, I didn't really feel like I got to know the characters like I wanted to. Again, to be fair, this was my opinion and no doubt based on my personal preferences. My wife read the book and had no issues with the point of view changes, so again, I think that is just a personal preference.
Third, the brothers in the book are named Richard and Rodger. I sometimes got the two confused. My wife said she noted the same thing. Perhaps the names were too similar?
As for who would enjoy this book? For certain, members of the LDS faith, I'd say 12 and older. There are some pretty dramatic scenes in this book which may be disturbing to younger readers. Even then, I'd say this would equate to a PG rating.
Lastly, the book leaves the possibilities open to continue the story. I'm not sure if that was the intention or not. It doesn't really feel like it has a proper ending, though in general, it does end on a satisfying note. I'm curious what happens next, so I would be interested in reading a follow up to All that was Promised.
As a final test of how good this book is, my wife stayed up late (like reallllllllllly late) one night to finish it.
To find out more about Vickie Hall, click here.
To purchase this book, click here.
**Disclaimer: I received a promotional copy of this book for reviewing purposes. However, the opinions stated in this review are truly my honest feelings about the book.**