Mark Hamby first began Cornerstone Family Ministries, which later became Lamplighter Ministries, in order to publish books which inspire Christ-like character. There are currently over 130 encouraging titles in print by Lamplighter Publishing. Lamplighter Ministries' mission is “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, by building Christ-like character... one story at a time.” I believe the most interesting part about Lamplighter Publishing's works is that they carefully edit all of the volumes they sell to remove any problematic content. If it doesn't reflect God's character, it is faithfully removed.
Today, I'm sharing about a book entitled The Secret Bridge by Amy LeFeuvre. The Secret Bridge was first written in 1899 and just published by Lamplighter this year. The 272 page hardcover book boasts a lovely teal cover with leather-like feel and embossed gold insert. When I first saw it, I was absolutely amazed by the quality of the book.
I'd like to walk you through some of the thought process I went through before requesting The Secret Bridge. First, it's a romance. I have boys. I was pretty sure they would have little to no interest in this book. The book is intended to be enjoyed by ages 12 and up. At first, I wanted to avoid this title. As I read the description on Lamplighter's website, I saw the words, “Acquaint thyself with Him.” and I knew I had to read this one myself. It's always kind of a surprise when something you don't have a high interest in, just reaches out and grabs you like that. So, while I was right about the boys' interest levels, I was happy to read the book.
The Secret Bridge, set at the end of the 19th century, is the tale of a young woman in a new country, utterly alone and penniless, through a run of unavoidable circumstances. Bridget has met a man named Godfrey, who has taken her under his care as best he can. He even impulsively proposes marriage, which she declines. Eventually, though, her needs are greater than her pride and she accepts the arrangement the day before he goes to sea. For various reasons, she is required to keep their marriage a secret and Godfrey provides a room and allowance for her. I think the fact that Godfrey is away most of their first year, is required so that Bridget can spend her time in the ways she does, becoming acquainted with her new family (who have no idea who she is), learning about developing a relationship with God, and caring for her neighbors in ways a married woman might not have been able to do on her own.
Of course, there is a shocking revelation mid-way through the book, which I didn't even see coming until a chapter or so before, though something was niggling away in the back of my mind! Suddenly, the complications caused by secret keeping became multiplied and many-faceted. Through it all, the romance is secondary to the young woman's pursuit of God. Our heroine goes from knowing of God's existence to developing an adoring love for God and sharing that with all of the people around her.
The *only* thing I did not care for was the overbearing way Godfrey behaved while trying to "win" Bridget's hand. I think it is pretty typical of romances nowadays as well. I was just surprised by it in this older novel. I want to be clear, he was not cruel or anything. The "courting" of Bridget just seemed odd to me.
Some things I really appreciated about the book were
- the "clean" romance. I think there were a couple of kisses in the book.
- the copious footnotes. There were plenty of references for bible verse, poems, definitions, etc., all clearly marked.
- a different font for each letter writer. Whether it was Bridget, Godfrey, Godfrey's mother, pretty much anyone, all the letters were printed in a different font.
- the illustrations. There were just a few of these, but the black line drawings were a nice glimpse into homes and situations that were important.
I would recommend this book for teen girls and women. It's a bit of fluff, but also such a lovely look at romance and the growth of godly character in a strong young woman.
At the end of the book, you'll also find the Lamplighter mission statement, other books published by Lamplighter (including other titles by Amy LeFeuvre), some books listed by recommended ages, and information about the Lamplighter Book & Audio Club.
And just because I enjoy audios with the boys, I wanted to include this information. Be sure to look for a radio station where you can listen to Lamplighter Theatre dramatic audios. Depending on where I am locally, we have a station I can pick up in the car and I just love to catch them when I can.
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